Eucharitid ant-parasitoid affects facultative ant-plant Leea manillensis: top-down effects through three trophic levels
- 215 Downloads
Facultative ant–plant mutualisms are variable systems, shaped by a number of biotic and abiotic factors. Especially in tropical ecosystems, the generally assumed mutualistic benefits are often hard to prove. We studied the system Leea manillensis on the Philippine island Panay and its indirect defence mechanism against herbivory by producing extrafloral nectar therewith attracting ants. Unexpectedly, we found an ant-parasitoid wasp from the genus Chalcura (Eucharitidae) to have a strong influence on the system, on ants as well as on plants. The parasitoid not only altered the behaviour of interacting ant species, but also directly and indirectly affected the plants’ fitness. This study demonstrates how top-down effects may alter species interactions and have a massive effect on mutualisms and their beneficial outcome.
KeywordsChalcura Extrafloral nectaries Ants Mutualistic interaction Philippines
The study was generously supported by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). We are very grateful to the Philippine NGO PhilinCon and the staff of the research station Sibaliw for their support, especially Benjamin S. Tacud jr. and Junmar E. Jamangal. We thank the PASU Rhodel B. Lababit (DENR) for the generous permission to work at the NW Panay Natural Park. We also thank Stefan Schmidt (ZMS) for the determination of the parasitoid wasp.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Dyer LA (2008) The ecology of tri-trophic interactions in the tropics. In: Carson WP, Schnitzer SA (eds) Tropical forest community ecology. Blackwell Science, Oxford, pp 275–293Google Scholar
- F.A.O. UN (2010) The food and agriculture organization of the United Nations’s. Global forest resources Assessment 2010. FAO Forestry paper, 163Google Scholar
- Godfray HCJ (2007) Parasitoids. Encyclopedia of Biodiversity. Elsevier, Oxford. online version doi: 10.1016/B0-12-226865-2/00218-2 ed. Simon A. Levin
- Heraty JM (1985) A revision of the Nearctic Eucharitinae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Eucharitidae). Proc Entomol Soc Ontario 116:61–103Google Scholar
- Heraty JM (1994) Biology and importance of two eucharitid parasites of Wasmannia and Solenopsis. In: Williams DR (ed) Exotic ants. Biology, impact and control of induced species. Westview Press, Boulder, pp 104–120Google Scholar
- Heraty JM (2002) A revision of the genera of Eucharitidae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea) of the world. Mem Am Entomol Inst 68:1–367Google Scholar
- Koptur S (1992) Extrafloral nectary-mediated interactions between insects and plants. Insect Plant Interact 4:81–129Google Scholar
- Lachaud J-P, Pèrez-Lachaud G (2012) Diversity of species and behavior of hymenopteran parasitoids of ants: a review. Psyche Article ID 134746. DOI: 10.1155/2012/134746
- Ridsdale CE (1976) A revision of the tribe Cephalantheae (Rubiaceae). Blumea 23:177–188Google Scholar
- Thompson JN (2006) Mutualistic webs of species. Ecology 312:372–373Google Scholar