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Rare cliffhanging plant species uses unique reproductive strategy with ants

Date:
September 12, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
The Borderea chouardii plant, which is critically endangered and is found only on two adjacent cliff sides in the Pyrenees, employs a unique and risky doubly mutualistic reproductive strategy with local ants, according to new research.
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Flowering female plant with a visiting ant (Lasius).
Credit: María B. García et al, PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e44657 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044657

The Borderea chouardii plant, which is critically endangered and is found only on two adjacent cliff sides in the Pyrenees, employs a unique and risky doubly mutualistic reproductive strategy with local ants, according to research published Sep. 12 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers, led by Maria Garcia of the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (CSIC), found that two ant species acted as the main pollinators for the plant, while a third species dispersed seeds. About a third of the new seedlings censused over 17 years in vertical cliffs would come from such dispersal, while the remaining two thirds from self-sown seeds by the female plants.

Such a strategy is risky, because if something were to happen to the local ant species the plant may not be able to continue reproducing, but the authors conclude that it can be successful in this particular case because of the plant's unusually long lifespan, in some cases reaching over 300 years, its climatically stable habitat, and its isolation from large herbivores.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. María B. García, Xavier Espadaler, Jens M. Olesen. Extreme Reproduction and Survival of a True Cliffhanger: The Endangered Plant Borderea chouardii (Dioscoreaceae). PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e44657 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044657

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Public Library of Science. "Rare cliffhanging plant species uses unique reproductive strategy with ants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912184522.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, September 12). Rare cliffhanging plant species uses unique reproductive strategy with ants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912184522.htm
Public Library of Science. "Rare cliffhanging plant species uses unique reproductive strategy with ants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912184522.htm (accessed September 3, 2015).

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