Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

African Ants' Self-Defense Takes A Heavy Toll On Hosts

Date:
October 12, 1999
Source:
University Of California, Davis
Summary:
A little-known species of African ant prunes its home trees into leafy islands, preventing murderous takeover raids by other ant species but castrating the trees in the process, suggests a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

A little-known species of African ant prunes its home trees into leafy islands, preventing murderous takeover raids by other ant species but castrating the trees in the process, suggests a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The findings, described in this Thursday's issue of the journal Nature with researchers from the University of Oregon and Mpala Research Centre in Kenya, have implications for two important questions in ecology.

First, why are ecological communities so diverse, and specifically, how do weaker competitors persist? In this community, the branches of neighboring acacia trees often touch, forming bridges for ant invasions, says lead author Maureen Stanton, a UC Davis professor of evolution and ecology. But Crematogaster nigriceps ants eliminate those bridges by chewing off their host tree's new growth. "This avoidance strategy allows these ant colonies to persist longer, almost as fugitives, in hostile neighborhoods," Stanton said.

Second, what might cause an organism living in a partnership to evolve into a parasite? Many specialized plant-ant species live cooperatively with their hosts -- the plants house and feed the ant colony, while the ants protect their hosts from herbivores, pathogens and competitors. Not so with C. nigriceps, Stanton said.

"Our field results suggest that this selfish pruning behavior has evolved because it increases the life span of C. nigriceps colonies, even though it removes all the host tree's flowers and stops the tree from reproducing," Stanton said. "There can be a fine line separating a mutualistic interaction from a parasitic one."

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the UC Davis Bridge Grant program.

#####

EDITOR'S NOTE: Digitized photos are available. Contact Sylvia Wright, 530-752-7704, swright@ucdavis.edu, for information.

Media contacts: Maureen Stanton, Evolution and Ecology, 530-752-2405, mlstanton@ucdavis.edu; Sylvia Wright, News Service, 530-752-7704, swright@ucdavis.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Davis. "African Ants' Self-Defense Takes A Heavy Toll On Hosts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991012075151.htm>.
University Of California, Davis. (1999, October 12). African Ants' Self-Defense Takes A Heavy Toll On Hosts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991012075151.htm
University Of California, Davis. "African Ants' Self-Defense Takes A Heavy Toll On Hosts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991012075151.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins