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Flower Defenses Against Nectar-Pilferage by Ants

Edward O. Guerrant, Jr. and Peggy Lee Fiedler
Biotropica
Vol. 13, No. 2, Supplement: Reproductive Botany (Jun., 1981), pp. 25-33
DOI: 10.2307/2388067
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388067
Page Count: 9
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Flower Defenses Against Nectar-Pilferage by Ants
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Abstract

To determine palatability, floral nectars from 25, and floral tissue extracts from 17, plant species of wet and dry forests of Costa Rica were offered to foraging ants in pairwise tests with sugar solutions. Nectars from all 25, and floral tissues from 10, species were analyzed chemically to ascertain the presence of potentially attractive and deterrent substances. In general, floral nectars are palatable to ants, whereas floral tissues showed highly variable palatability. We observed ants foraging in flowers of only 10 species of plants. Defense from nectar thievery by chewing insects seems most often to involve varying degrees of chemical and morphological modification of floral parts, rather than by the production of deterrent compounds in the nectar itself.

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