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Interactions between ants and plants: Collaboration with Dr. Suzanne Koptur (Florida International University, Miami, USA)

Grant number: 14/15721-8
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): November 16, 2014
Effective date (End): February 15, 2015
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems Ecology
Principal researcher:Paulo Sergio Moreira Carvalho de Oliveira
Grantee:Paulo Sergio Moreira Carvalho de Oliveira
Host: Suzanne Koptur
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Florida International University (FIU), United States  


The purpose of this project is to establish research collaboration with Dr. Suzanne Koptur (Florida International University, Miami, USA) in the field of ant-plant interactions, a topic representing a substantial part of our scientific production (see attached CVs). The proposal seeks to obtain financial support for a 3-month visit to Dr. Koptur's laboratory in order to develop two subprojects: Part 1: "Organization of a book on ant-plant interactions in changing environments". Although ant-plant mutualisms have evolved in spatially and temporally variable environments, little is known about the degree of resilience of these associations in view of the current global changes (and man-induced disturbance). Indeed this is a timely topic for research given the relevance of ants and plants for the trophic structure of terrestrial communities. The proposed volume is unique and will assemble chapters from a team of experts on a diversity of key topics within ant-plant interactions. Part 2: Develop an experimental research on behavioral interactions between ants and lepidopteran caterpillars. Caterpillars of Phoebis sennae (Pieridae) feed on shrubs of Senna chapmanii (Fabaceae), a plant bearing extrafloral nectaries that is commonly visited by ants in the Miami region. Although visiting ants protect this plant species from Phoebis infestation, the behavioral aspects mediating this ant-herbivore interaction are unknown.Dr. Koptur is widely recognized for her leadership in the field of insect-plant interactions. Both subprojects presented herewith represent an excellent opportunity for a fruitful scientific interchange between the research groups of Campinas and Miami.