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(Reference retrieved automatically from Web of Science through information on FAPESP grant and its corresponding number as mentioned in the publication by the authors.)

Mutualism exploitation: predatory drosophilid larvae sugar-trap ants and jeopardize facultative ant-plant mutualism

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Author(s):
Vidal, Mayra C. [1, 2] ; Sendoya, Sebastian F. [3] ; Oliveira, Paulo S. [3]
Total Authors: 3
Affiliation:
[1] Univ Denver, Dept Biol Sci, Denver, CO 80208 - USA
[2] Univ Estadual Campinas, Inst Biol, Grad Program Ecol, BR-13083970 Sao Paulo - Brazil
[3] Univ Estadual Campinas, Dept Biol Anim, BR-13083970 Sao Paulo - Brazil
Total Affiliations: 3
Document type: Journal article
Source: ECOLOGY; v. 97, n. 7, p. 1650-1657, JUL 2016.
Web of Science Citations: 5
Abstract

An open question in the evolutionary ecology of ant-plant facultative mutualism is how other members of the associated community can affect the interaction to a point where reciprocal benefits are disrupted. While visiting Qualea grandiflora shrubs to collect sugary-rewards at extrafloral nectaries, tropical savanna ants deter herbivores and reduce leaf damage. Here we show that larvae of the fly Rhinoleucophenga myrmecophaga, which develop on extrafloral nectaries, lure potentially mutualistic, nectar-feeding ants and prey on them. Foraging ants spend less time on fly-infested foliage. Field experiments showed that predation (or the threat of predation) on ants by fly larvae produces cascading effects through three trophic levels, resulting in fewer protective ants on leaves, increased numbers of chewing herbivores, and greater leaf damage. These results reveal an undocumented mode of mutualism exploitation by an opportunistic predator at a plant-provided food source, jeopardizing ant-derived protection services to the plant. Our study documents a rather unusual case of predation of adult ants by a dipteran species and demonstrates a top-down trophic cascade within a generalized ant-plant mutualism. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 14/23141-1 - Ecology of interactions, behavioral ecology, and genetics of neotropical ant populations
Grantee:Paulo Sergio Moreira Carvalho de Oliveira
Support type: BIOTA-FAPESP Program - Regular Research Grants
FAPESP's process: 11/18580-8 - Studies on Neotropical ants: interactions with herbivorous insects, behavioral ecology and social organization
Grantee:Paulo Sergio Moreira Carvalho de Oliveira
Support type: Regular Research Grants
FAPESP's process: 12/23671-5 - Interaction between ants and plants bearing extrafloral nectaries : community patterns along a latitudinal gradient in the cerrado biome
Grantee:Paulo Sergio Moreira Carvalho de Oliveira
Support type: Regular Research Grants
FAPESP's process: 10/13619-0 - Exploitation of ants-Qualea grandiflora (Vochysiaceae) mutualism by Medetera (Dolichopodidae, Diptera)
Grantee:Mayra Cadorin Vidal
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Master
FAPESP's process: 12/23399-3 - Interaction between ants and plants bearing extrafloral nectaries : Community patterns along a latitudinal gradient in the cerrado biome
Grantee:Sebastian Felipe Sendoya Echeverry
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate