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Macroevolutionary patterns in the origin of mutualisms involving ants

Oliver, T. H., Leather, S. R. and Cook, J. M. (2008) Macroevolutionary patterns in the origin of mutualisms involving ants. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 21 (6). pp. 1597-1608. ISSN 1010-061X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01600.x

Abstract/Summary

Ants are a diverse and abundant insect group that form mutualistic associations with a number of different organisms from fungi to insects and plants. Here, we use a phylogenetic approach to identify ecological factors that explain macroevolutionary trends in the mutualism between ants and honeydew-producing Homoptera. We also consider association between ant-Homoptera, ant-fungi and ant-plant mutualisms. Homoptera-tending ants are more likely to be forest dwelling, polygynous, ecologically dominant and arboreal nesting with large colonies of 10(4)-10(5) individuals. Mutualistic ants (including those that garden fungi and inhabit ant-plants) are found in under half of the formicid subfamilies. At the genus level, however, we find a negative association between ant-Homoptera and ant-fungi mutualisms, whereas there is a positive association between ant-Homoptera and ant-plant mutualisms. We suggest that species can only specialize in multiple mutualisms simultaneously when there is no trade-off in requirements from the different partners and no redundancy of rewards.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:9862
Uncontrolled Keywords:co-evolution, dominant ants, Formicidae, Homoptera, mutualism, myrmecophiles, species interactions, HONEYDEW SUGAR COMPOSITION, HOST-PLANT, EXTRAFLORAL NECTARIES, APHID, MUTUALISMS, EVOLUTION, ASSOCIATION, RESOURCE, ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, BUTTERFLIES

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