Mutualistic Interactions Among Free-Living Species in Rupestrian Grasslands

  • Tadeu J. GuerraEmail author
  • Daniel W. Carstensen
  • Leonor Patricia Cerdeira Morellato
  • Fernando A. O. Silveira
  • Fernanda V. Costa


Mutualisms such as animal pollination and seed dispersal, and protection of plants and insects by ants are ubiquitous in terrestrial ecosystems. Currently, mutualistic interactions among plants and animals are recognized for their paramount importance in biodiversity maintenance, especially in tropical ecosystems. In this chapter, we review the literature and present unpublished data on the ecology of mutualistic interactions among free-living species in Brazilian megadiverse montane Rupestrian Grasslands, the Campo Rupestre. We focus on interactions between plants and their pollinators and seed dispersers, and also interactions between ants, myrmecophilous plants and trophobiont insects. We provide basic information on mutualistic interactions, including data on natural history in addition to more advanced studies using network-based approaches. Only in the past decade mutualistic interactions have become intensively studied in Campo Rupestre, but information is still scattered and concentrated for a few localities. Pollination is an important process for reproduction of most plant species studied so far, with bees and hummingbirds acting as the main pollinators. Seemingly, animal pollination is more important than seed dispersal for gene flow across plant populations. Most vertebrate seed dispersal is carried out by non-specialized avian frugivorous, but also by short-distance seed dispersers such as ants and lizards. Moreover, ants are diversified and abundant group that seem to play a major role in these ecosystems, acting as secondary seed dispersers, as nectar thieves, and as bodyguards of plants and insects. We conclude this chapter by pointing out some gaps in our knowledge and proposing avenues for future research.


Seed Dispersal Seed Disperser Flower Visitor Rocky Outcrop Extrafloral Nectary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank G.W. Fernandes for the invitation to write this chapter and for his inspiring passion about the Rupestrian Grasslands. Also Marco A. Mello and Beth Morrison for their suggestions and comments on the manuscript. T.J. Guerra would like to thank Marco A. Pizo and Wesley R. Silva for their guidance and constant support. T.J. Guerra is supported by postdoctoral fellowship from Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and received a reseach grant from São Paulo Research Found (FAPESP) (Grant #07/59444-4). F.A.O. Silveira received a financial support from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (Grant #486742/2012-1) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) (Grant #APQ02231-12). F.V. Costa received a doctoral fellowship from CAPES and was supported by CNPq (Grant #478565/2012-7). L.P.C. Morellato and D.W. Carstensen were funded by FAPESP-VALE-FAPEMIG (Grant #2010/51307-0) and FAPESP (Grants #2011/22635-2, #2013/05920-0, BEPE, #2014/01594-4). L.P.C. Morellato and F.A.O. Silveira receive CNPq research productivity fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tadeu J. Guerra
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel W. Carstensen
    • 2
  • Leonor Patricia Cerdeira Morellato
    • 2
  • Fernando A. O. Silveira
    • 1
  • Fernanda V. Costa
    • 3
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Departamento de BotânicaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de BotânicaUniversidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)Rio ClaroBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Conservação e Manejo da Vida SilvestreUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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