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The Ecology and Evolution of Ant-Plant Interactions$
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Victor Rico-Gray and Paulo S. Oliveira

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226713472

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226713540.001.0001

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Variation in Ant-Plant Interactions

Variation in Ant-Plant Interactions

(p.193) Chapter Ten Variation in Ant-Plant Interactions
The Ecology and Evolution of Ant-Plant Interactions

Victor Rico-Gray

Paulo S. Oliveira

University of Chicago Press

The distribution of species is far from even, creating a spatial mosaic of species richness. In general, the tropics contain more species than equivalent areas at higher latitudes, although exceptions are numerous when specific taxa are reviewed. Not only are species unevenly distributed, but their interactions also vary spatially and seasonally; variations occur in critical plant structures and/or food sources for interactions as well. Ant–plant interactions have been reported to change in number and in outcome among habitats, throughout the year and between years. However, most studies do not take into account temporal variation, or that ant colonies and their interactions with plants can change over time. The spatial variation in the richness and availability of energy-rich liquid food for ants can be associated with interhabitat differences in ant diversity and abundance, and thus generate variation in ant–plant interactions. This chapter looks at examples of temporal and geographic variation (latitudinal, altitudinal, and geographic variation) in ant–plant interactions, and associates variation with community structure and coevolution.

Keywords:   temporal variation, spatial variation, ants, plants, ant–plant interactions, habitats, community structure, coevolution

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