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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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Overview and Perspectives

Overview and Perspectives

(p.231) Chapter Twelve Overview and Perspectives
The Ecology and Evolution of Ant-Plant Interactions

Victor Rico-Gray

Paulo S. Oliveira

University of Chicago Press

Ants are probably the most dominant insect family on earth, and flowering plants have been the dominant plant group on land for more than 100 million years. The evolutionary success of angiosperms cannot be ascribed solely to benefits conferred by possessing flowers; it is also the result of benefits conferred by an array of interspecific interactions (for example, pollination, herbivory, and seed dispersal) that have helped shape their great diversity. On those bases alone, the results of studies on the ecology and evolution of ant–plant interactions are crucial to an understanding of the ecology of terrestrial biological communities. This chapter discusses the importance of studies on ant–plant interactions for evolutionary ecology and presents an overview of what has been learned by studying such interactions. It examines spatial and temporal variation in ant–plant interactions, the role of induced responses to herbivory, the phylogeny of ant–plant interactions, and plant defense by ants. The chapter concludes by suggesting perspectives on what needs to be studied and how these studies should be approached, and by reporting on research that is currently in development.

Keywords:   ants, plants, angiosperms, ant–plant interactions, ecology, evolution, temporal variation, herbivory, phylogeny, plant defense

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