The diversity of ant-plant interactions in the rainforest understorey tree, Ryparosa (Achariaceae): Food bodies, domatia, prostomata, and hemipteran trophobionts

Bruce L. Webber, Joachim Moog, Alan S.O. Curtis, Ian E. Woodrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ant-plant relationships, with variability in both intimacy and the trophic structure of associations, are described for the Austro-Malesian rainforest tree genus Ryparosa (Achariaceae). The range of associations involves opportunistic interactions between plants and foraging ants, mediated by food bodies, and tighter associations in which ant colonies, tending hemipteran trophobionts, reside permanently in plant structures with different degrees of adaptation to house ants. Our study provides strong baseline data to suggest that Ryparosa could become a new model system for examining the evolutionary radiation of ant-related traits. To define the diversity of ant-plant associations in Ryparosa, we first present a review of ant-plant terminology and an outline of its use in this study. Field studies of ant interactions with food bodies in myrmecotrophic R. kurrangii from Australia and the association between myrmecoxenic R. fasciculata and two Cladomyrma plant-ant species on the Malay Peninsula provide detailed examples of ant-plant interactions. An examination of herbarium material revealed a diverse range of ant-plant associations in other Ryparosa taxa. All 27 species had evidence of food body production, seven species had evidence of stem inhabitation by ants, five species had specialized stem domatia, and the domatia of R. amplifolia featured prostomata. Variation in the specificity of Ryparosa ant-plant interactions is discussed in relation to known ant partners and other ant-plant associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-371
Number of pages19
JournalBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume154
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

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