Chapter

Canopy-Dwelling Ants, Plant and Insect Exudates, and Ant Mosaics

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226713540.003.0009
Canopy-Dwelling Ants, Plant and Insect Exudates, and Ant Mosaics

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Interspecific competition has long been of interest to ecologists as a possible mechanism structuring natural communities and mediating phenomena such as resource partitioning within habitats. Ants are distributed over a wide variety of habitats and display a range of lifestyles; until recently they were regarded as fundamentally carnivorous. Although researchers recognized the role of some ant species as consumers of plant products, their function in food webs was considered to be primarily as predators and scavengers of animal matter. Because ants make up a major part of the arthropods living in the canopy of tropical forests, and because their biomass greatly surpasses that of their potential herbivore prey, this pattern poses a paradox and challenges our understanding of energy flow in forest canopies. This chapter, which focuses on canopy-dwelling ants, plant and insect exudates, and ant mosaics, also explores ant community structure, and investigates the effect of tending trophobionts on associated herbivores and on the host plant.

Keywords: ant mosaics; competition; exudates; plants; ants; tropical forests; community structure; trophobionts; herbivores; forest canopies

Chapter.  4832 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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