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Data from: Harnessing ant defence at fruits reduces bruchid seed predation in a symbiotic ant-plant mutualism

Citation

Pringle, Elizabeth G. (2014), Data from: Harnessing ant defence at fruits reduces bruchid seed predation in a symbiotic ant-plant mutualism, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.684mm

Abstract

In horizontally transmitted mutualisms, mutualists disperse separately and reassemble in each generation with partners genetically unrelated to those in the previous generation. Because of this, there should be no selection on either partner to enhance the other's reproductive output directly. In symbiotic ant–plant mutualisms, myrmecophytic plants host defensive ant colonies, and ants defend the plants from herbivores. Plants and ants disperse separately, and, although ant defence can indirectly increase plant reproduction by reducing folivory, it is unclear whether ants can also directly increase plant reproduction by defending seeds. The neotropical tree Cordia alliodora hosts colonies of Azteca pittieri ants. The trees produce domatia where ants nest at stem nodes and also at the node between the peduncle and the rachides of the infloresence. Unlike the stem domatia, these reproductive domatia senesce after the tree fruits each year. In this study, I show that the tree's resident ant colony moves into these ephemeral reproductive domatia, where they tend honeydew-producing scale insects and patrol the nearby developing fruits. The presence of ants significantly reduced pre-dispersal seed predation by Amblycerus bruchid beetles, thereby directly increasing plant reproductive output.

Usage Notes

Location

Mexico
Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve