Herbivory induced extrafloral nectar increases native and invasive ant worker survival
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Ascertaining the costs and benefits of mutualistic interactions is important for predicting their stability and effect on community dynamics. Despite widespread designation of the interaction between ants and extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) as a mutualism and over 100 years of studies on ant benefits to plants, the benefits to ants have never been experimentally quantified. The success of invasive ants is thought to be linked to the availability of carbohydrate-rich resources, though reports of invasive ant visits to EFNs are mixed. In two laboratory experiments, we compared worker survival of one native (Iridomyrmex chasei) and two invasive ant species (Linepithema humile and Pheidole megacephala) exposed to herbivorized or non-herbivorized EFN-bearing plants (Acacia saligna) or positive and negative controls.
Reference Number: #J120
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