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Ecology, 79(6), 1998, pp. 21002112 1998 by the Ecological Society of America
 

Summary: 2100
Ecology, 79(6), 1998, pp. 2100­2112
1998 by the Ecological Society of America
LEAF DAMAGE AND ASSOCIATED CUES INDUCE AGGRESSIVE ANT
RECRUITMENT IN A NEOTROPICAL ANT-PLANT
ANURAG A. AGRAWAL1
Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, California 95616 USA
Abstract. Induced chemical responses following herbivory are common in plants. Plant
responses that change the level of physical or biotic defense are less well documented and
poorly understood. Many Azteca spp. ants are obligate inhabitants of Cecropia spp. trees.
In such ant­plant associations the ants are thought to be analogous to chemical defenses;
previous experiments have demonstrated that ant occupation of C. obtusifolia reduced
herbivory and plant competition and increased growth. Experiments, conducted over two
years, on the dynamics of ant defense demonstrate that leaf damage caused a fivefold
increase in the number of Azteca spp. ants on damaged leaves of C. obtusifolia compared
to that on disturbed but undamaged control leaves. Ant activity peaked 8­12 min after
damage, and differences between damaged and control leaves remained evident for 24 h.
Such rapid induction of ant recruitment is likely to be particularly effective against un-
predictable and mobile herbivores. The magnitude of the induced ant response to damage
was strongly correlated with the number of ants patrolling the leaves before damage oc-

  

Source: Agrawal, Anurag - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Entomollogy, Cornell University

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology