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Interaction of the Ant-Plant Leonardoxa africana (Caesalpiniaceae) With Its Obligate Inhabitants in a Rainforest in Cameroon
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Jun., 1984), pp. 81-99
Published by: Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2387840
Page Count: 19
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Leaves, Ants, Internodes, Insect colonies, Phytophagous insects, Worker insects, Plants, Queen insects, Herbivores, Nectaries
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This study describes the association between the ant-plant Leonardoxa africana (Caesalpiniaceae) and its inhabitants Petalomyrmex phylax (Formicinae) and Cataulacus mckeyi (Myrmicinae) in lowland rainforest in Cameroon. Ant-related features of Leonardoxa include foliar nectaries and swollen internodes which, when young, are excavated and occupied by the ants. Petalomyrmex workers protect the young leaves of Leonardoxa from herbivores. In the study site, possession of a Petalomyrmex colony appears to be required for a Leonardoxa shoot to survive to adulthood. In contrast, Cataulacus workers do not protect the plant and exclude Petalomyrmex from shoots they occupy; this species can be considered a parasite on the Leonardoxa x Petalomyrmex mutualism. Petalomyrmex workers patrol only the young leaves of Leonardoxa. Mature leaves are not patrolled but accumulate extremely little herbivore damage, being well defended chemically and mechanically. The hypothesis is proposed that in ant-plants such as Leonardoxa, whose leaves are very long-lived, the cost of providing leaves with permanent chemical or mechanical protection decreases relative to the cost of maintaining a large worker force of ants throughout the life of the leaf. A smaller worker force is maintained that patrols only the young leaves.
Biotropica © 1984 Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation