Antagonistic Interactions: <i>Leaf-Cutting and Seed-Harvesting Ants</i>

Victor Rico-Gray and Paulo S. Oliveira

in The Ecology and Evolution of Ant-Plant Interactions

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780226713472
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226713540 | DOI:
Antagonistic Interactions: Leaf-Cutting and Seed-Harvesting Ants

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In antagonistic interactions, the fitness of individuals of one of the interacting species increases, while that of individuals of other interacting species decreases as a result of the interaction. Basically, antagonistic interactions occur between species because living organisms are concentrated packages of energy and nutrients (trophic interactions) and because resources are limited (competition). Antagonistic interactions can be divided into four basic types: parasitism, grazing, predation, and competition. Ants and plants are associated basically in two categories of antagonistic interaction: grazing (leaf-cutting ants) and predation (seed-harvesting ants). Due to the large numbers of seeds removed by ants and the often intense interspecific competition for seeds among ants, granivory and seed harvesting have been considered to be important interactions structuring plant communities. The relationship between antagonism (seed predation) and mutualism (seed dispersal) may be based on the availability of unspecialized seed-collecting ants that contribute to the prevalence of myrmecochory. This chapter reviews leaf-cutter and seed-harvesting ant systems, focusing on the interactions and their effects on the plant community.

Keywords: leaf-cutting ants; grazing; seed-harvesting ants; antagonistic interactions; parasitism; predation; competition; plant communities; seed dispersal

Chapter.  7306 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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