Variation in Ant-Plant Interactions

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:
Variation in Ant-Plant Interactions

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The distribution of species is far from even, creating a spatial mosaic of species richness. In general, the tropics contain more species than equivalent areas at higher latitudes, although exceptions are numerous when specific taxa are reviewed. Not only are species unevenly distributed, but their interactions also vary spatially and seasonally; variations occur in critical plant structures and/or food sources for interactions as well. Ant–plant interactions have been reported to change in number and in outcome among habitats, throughout the year and between years. However, most studies do not take into account temporal variation, or that ant colonies and their interactions with plants can change over time. The spatial variation in the richness and availability of energy-rich liquid food for ants can be associated with interhabitat differences in ant diversity and abundance, and thus generate variation in ant–plant interactions. This chapter looks at examples of temporal and geographic variation (latitudinal, altitudinal, and geographic variation) in ant–plant interactions, and associates variation with community structure and coevolution.

Keywords: temporal variation; spatial variation; ants; plants; ant–plant interactions; habitats; community structure; coevolution

Chapter.  6839 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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