Macroevolutionary patterns in the origin of mutualisms involving ants

Oliver, T.H.; Leather, S.R.; Cook, J.M.. 2008 Macroevolutionary patterns in the origin of mutualisms involving ants. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 21 (6). 1597-1608.

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Ants are a diverse and abundant insect group that form mutualistic associations with a number of different organisms from fungi to insects and plants. Here we use a phylogenetic approach to identify ecological factors that explain macroevolutionary trends in the mutualism between ants and honeydew-producing Homoptera. We also consider association between ant-Homoptera, ant-fungi and ant-plant mutualisms. Homoptera-tending ants are more likely to be forest dwelling, polygynous, ecologically dominant and arboreal nesting with large colonies of 10^4 – 10^5 individuals. Mutualistic ants (including those that garden fungi and inhabit ant-plants) are found in under half of the formicid subfamilies. At the genus level, however, we find a negative association between ant-Homoptera and ant-fungi mutualisms, while there is a positive association between ant-Homoptera and ant-plant mutualisms. We suggest that species can only specialise in multiple mutualisms simultaneously when there is no trade-off in requirements from the different partners and no redundancy of rewards.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Ecology & Hydrology Funding Initiative (EHFI)
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1010-061X
Additional Keywords: co-evolution, dominant ants, Formicidae, Homoptera, mutualism, myrmecophiles, species interactions
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 09 Oct 2009 12:20 +0 (UTC)

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