Chapter

Ant-Plant Interactions in Agriculture

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/9780226713540.003.0011
Ant-Plant Interactions in Agriculture

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Data obtained from studies of various topics in ant–plant interactions could potentially be applied in insect pest management programs of agricultural systems. Ants possess many characteristics that are associated with the potential to act as biological control agents, especially in tropical agroecosystems, and an economically beneficial role has been associated with ants used for such purposes. Nevertheless, the positive effects of several ant attributes (for example, predation of herbivores, pollination, soil improvement, and nutrient cycling) must be weighed against possible disadvantages (such as leaf-cutter ants and seed predators). Some ants feed on or disturb plants, act as vectors of plant diseases, benefit damaging Hemiptera, and may attack humans, domestic animals, or other beneficial animals. In short, virtually all ant species that prey on pests also possess some potential disadvantages. This chapter reviews some general characteristics of agricultural systems, the herbivore–ant relationship, the role of ants as biological control agents (describing two case studies: maize and coffee), and the relationship between biological control and the study of interspecific interactions.

Keywords: agricultural systems; herbivores; ants; biological control agents; ant–plant interactions; maize; coffee

Chapter.  5501 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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