Qualea grandiflora is a typical tree of Brazilian cerrados (savanna-like vegetation) that bears paired extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) along its stems. Results show that possession of EFNs increases ant density on Q. grandiflora shrubs over that of neighbouring non-nectariferous plants. Frequency of ant occupancy and mean number of ants per plant were much higher on Qualea than on plants lacking EFNs. These differences resulted in many more live termitebaits being attacked by foraging ants on Qualea than on neighbours without EFNs. Termites were attacked in equal numbers and with equal speeds on different-aged leaves of Qualea. The greatest potential for herbivore deterrence was presented by Camponotus ants (C. crassus, C. rufipes and C. aff. blandus), which together attacked significantly more termites than nine other ant species grouped. EFNs are regarded as important promoters of ant activity on cerado plants.
Ant foraging Extrafloral nectaries QualeaCerrado vegetation Ant-plant mutualism