Invasive ants: unwanted partners in ant-plant interactions?

Lach, Lori (2003) Invasive ants: unwanted partners in ant-plant interactions? Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 90 (1). pp. 91-108.

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As invasive ants spread, their interactions with plants are inevitable and have potentially great implications for agriculture and conservation. When considered in the context of pre-existing models of ant-plant interactions, the higher abundance, aggressive nature, and attraction to high-carbohydrate resources typically associated with invasive ants lead to hypotheses about how invasive ants may differ from native ants in protecting plants from herbivores, tending of Homoptera, and interactions affecting plant reproduction. Examples demonstrate that all three of these traits common to invasive ants can influence the outcome of interactions between invasive ants and plants, but ant biology and attributes of other organisms also determine the consequences for the plant. Drawing from these examples and considering traits of the invasive ants, plants, and other organisms that interact with the plant, I offer predictions for the contexts in which plants will be at high and low risk of adverse outcomes or may benefit from interacting with an invasive ant. The potential for effects of invasive ants on plants to counteract, and the complexity and context-dependency that are hallmarks of ant-plant interactions generally, preclude drawing simple conclusions about the net impacts of invasive ants on plants. Further research on interactions between invasive ants and plants will contribute directly to conservation and agriculture, and provide insights to invasion ecology and our understanding of ant-plant interactions.

Item ID: 29871
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2162-4372
Keywords: abundance, aggression, byproduct mutualism, carbohydrates, context-dependent outcomes, extrafloral nectaries, Homoptera, invasive ants
Funders: EPA STAR fellowship, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2015 05:30
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 10%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050103 Invasive Species Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060808 Invertebrate Biology @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960804 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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