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Classic Themes: Ants, Plants and Fungi

  • Tim R. New
Chapter

Abstract

The interactions between ants and plants collectively display an enormous variety of intricate and specific associations. As noted in the previous chapter, some ants pollinate flowers, but their roles in that capacity are vastly overshadowed by the predominance of other Hymenoptera. However, the variety of other interactions between ants and plants has led to more being written on these themes than on any other mutualism-related topics. Some of those interactions rank amongst the classic mutualisms described. In his overview, Buckley (1982) listed six broad categories of ant-plant interactions that he included as ‘mutualisms’. In addition to pollination, these were associations with extrafloral nectaries, food bodies, domatia, ant-epiphytes, ant gardens and seed dispersal. Each of these broad themes has received considerable attention, and they collectively indicate the broad array of interdependences flowing from associations between different plant groups and different ant taxa, with many interactions very specific. Key reviews include those by Janzen (1966), Beattie (1985) and Rico-Gray and Oliveira (2007), the last being an encyclopaedic synthesis and reference source with numerous examples.

Keywords

Acacias Ant gardens Domatia Epiphytes Extrafloral nectaries Food bodies Formicidae Herbivory Mutualism Myrmecochory Myrmecophytes Plant defences 

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim R. New
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Environment & EvolutionLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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