Antagonism and Mutualism: <i>Indirect Interactions</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:
Antagonism and Mutualism: Indirect Interactions

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Some plants attract natural enemies of herbivores (for example, ants and predatory and parasitoid flies and wasps) by bearing honeydew-producing insects such as hemipterans, lepidopteran larvae, and gallmakers. Ant-tended Hemiptera (aphids, scales, coccids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, and treehoppers) are sap-sucking herbivores that excrete the excess liquid and sugars as energy-rich honeydew. Most Hemiptera are herbivores and their deleterious effect on plants is not only due to sap-sucking, which decreases plant fitness; they are also important vectors of plant pathogens). The presence of Hemiptera in low-diversity systems, including greenhouses, crop fields, and orchards, has been associated with high plant damage). However, it has been suggested that, under natural conditions, hemipterans do not reach high densities, and that their presence can therefore even be beneficial to some plants rather than harmful. This chapter examines the general characteristics of ant–hemipteran–plant interactions, including their conditional nature and possible outcomes, and their effects on the fitness of the various participants. Using fossil and current evidence, it also analyzes the ant–hemipteran interactions as they relate to the evolution of extrafloral nectaries.

Keywords: ants; plants; hemipterans; evolution; extrafloral nectaries; herbivores; fitness; ant–hemipteran interactions

Chapter.  6669 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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