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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  

Abstract

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.