A temporary social parasite of tropical plant-ants improves the fitness of a myrmecophyte

Déjean Alain, Leroy Céline, Corbara Bruno, Céréghino Régis, Roux Olivier, Hérault Bruno, Rossi Vivien, Guerrero Roberto J., Delabie Jacques H.C., Orivel Jérôme, Boulay Raphaël. 2010. A temporary social parasite of tropical plant-ants improves the fitness of a myrmecophyte. Naturwissenschaften, 97 : pp. 925-934.

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Liste HCERES des revues (en SHS) : oui

Thème(s) HCERES des revues (en SHS) : Psychologie-éthologie-ergonomie

Abstract : Myrmecophytes offer plant-ants a nesting place in exchange for protection from their enemies, particularly defoliators. These obligate ant-plant mutualisms are common model systems for studying factors that allow horizontally transmitted mutualisms to persist since parasites of ant-myrmecophyte mutualisms exploit the rewards provided by host plants whilst providing no protection in return. In pioneer formations in French Guiana, #Azteca alfari# and #Azteca ovaticeps# are known to be mutualists of myrmecophytic #Cecropia# (#Cecropia# ants). Here, we show that #Azteca andreae#, whose colonies build carton nests on myrmecophytic #Cecropia#, is not a parasite of #Azteca-Cecropia# mutualisms nor is it a temporary social parasite of #A. alfari#; it is, however, a temporary social parasite of #A. ovaticeps#. Contrarily to the two mutualistic Azteca species that are only occasional predators feeding mostly on hemipteran honeydew and food bodies provided by the host trees, #A. andreae# workers, which also attend hemipterans, do not exploit the food bodies. Rather, they employ an effective hunting technique where the leaf margins are fringed with ambushing workers, waiting for insects to alight. As a result, the host trees' fitness is not affected as #A. andreae# colonies protect their foliage better than do mutualistic Azteca species resulting in greater fruit production. Yet, contrarily to mutualistic Azteca, when host tree development does not keep pace with colony growth, #A. andreae# workers forage on surrounding plants; the colonies can even move to a non-#Cecropia# tree. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Azteca, Cecropia, Insecte utile, Agroécosystème, Interactions biologiques, Mécanisme de défense, Relation plante animal, Parasite, forêt tropicale, Écologie, Écologie animale, Arbre

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Guyane française

Classification Agris : F40 - Plant ecology
L20 - Animal ecology
H01 - Protection of plants - General aspects
K01 - Forestry - General aspects

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 6 (2005-2013) - Agriculture, environnement, nature et sociétés

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Déjean Alain, CNRS (GUF)
  • Leroy Céline, CNRS (GUF)
  • Corbara Bruno, CNRS (FRA)
  • Céréghino Régis, CNRS (FRA)
  • Roux Olivier, Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier (FRA)
  • Hérault Bruno, UAG (GUF) ORCID: 0000-0002-6950-7286
  • Rossi Vivien, CIRAD-ES-UMR Ecofog (GUF) ORCID: 0000-0001-5458-1523
  • Guerrero Roberto J., INTROPIC (COL)
  • Delabie Jacques H.C., CEPEC (BRA)
  • Orivel Jérôme
  • Boulay Raphaël

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