, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 71-74
Date: 07 Dec 2004

An aphid-ant interaction: effects on different trophic levels

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The interaction between the aphid Aphis coreopsidis (Thomas) (Hemiptera, Aphididae) and the ant Camponotus sp.1 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) on the plant Bidens pilosa L. (Asteraceae) was studied. We manipulated the presence of ants and other insects to understand the effects of this aphid-ant interaction on: (a) the growth of A. coreopsidis population, (b) the seed production of B. pilosa, (c) the density of predator spiders. The growth of the A. coreopsidis population was positively affected by attending ants, showing greater increase on ant-present control plants than on ant-excluded plants. The density of aphids on control plants was positively correlated with the density of attending ants, while the density of aphids on ant-excluded plants was positively correlated with the density of spiders. Plants with ants had a significantly lower quantity of viable seeds than those without ants. These results show that: (a) the presence of Camponotus ants reduces the number of predator spiders on B. pilosa, (b) the population of A. coreopsidis increases when attended by the ants, (c) this increase in aphid density as a result of ant attendance reduces the number of viable seeds of B. pilosa, and thus (d) an interspecific interaction between two species can have an indirect negative fitness effect on other partners.