Ants alter plant-pollinator interactions

Dr. Rodríguez-Gironés and colleagues have a paper in the Journal in Early View titled Possible role of weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina, in shaping plant-pollinator interactions in SE Asia. Read the paper here.

The authors have provided a short synopsis of the paper and some great photos of weaver ants and their interactions with pollinators on flowers.

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Rodríguez-Gironés et al.

Predators can alter the behaviour of their prey and the species with which they interact in a community. Predators ambushing at flowers for unsuspecting visitors can therefore interfere with a key ecosystem service: pollination. As a result, theory predicts that, if ambush predators were sufficiently mobile and abundant, they could have wide-ranging effects on plant community structure and composition. Crab spiders, the best known predators ambushing at flowers for pollinators, affect pollinator behaviour but are probably too scarce to affect plant communities.

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Rodríguez-Gironés et al.

In this study we show that weaver ants often use flowers as hunting platforms in tropical Asia and Australia. In view of their ubiquity, we suggest that these predatory ants could play a key role in shaping plant-pollinator interactions throughout their distributional range. Future studies must elucidate the actual impact of ants on plant communities, and the extent to which other ant species play similar roles in Africa and the Neotropics.

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Rodríguez-Gironés et al.

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