Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plants compete for friendly ants

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
SUNY Buffalo State
Summary:
Many woodland plants rely on ants to disperse their seeds; such seed dispersal increases the plant population's chance of survival. New research has recently demonstrated that ant-dispersed plants (myrmecochores) compete for ant dispersers by staggering seed release.

Two Aphaenogaster picea ants at a bait station filled with Asarum arifolium seeds.
Credit: Robert Warren

Many woodland plants rely on ants to disperse their seeds; such seed dispersal increases the plant population's chance of survival. Robert Warren, assistant professor of biology at SUNY Buffalo State, has recently demonstrated that ant-dispersed plants (myrmecochores) compete for ant dispersers by staggering seed release.

Related Articles


"Competition as a mechanism structuring mutualisms" by Warren and coauthors Itamar Giladi and Mark A. Bradford was published online on January 13 in the Journal of Ecology. The researchers hypothesized that the staggered timing of seed release by ant-dependent plants has been shaped by competition, through which plants with less desirable (smaller) seeds avoid competing with plants with more desirable (larger) seeds. Warren showed that ants will ignore small seeds altogether if they are placed close to large seeds.

"It is well known that plants compete for the light, water, and nutrients they need to thrive, " said Warren. "However, we show that plants also compete for living resources such as ants to disperse seeds." In other words, mutualist partners -- members of different species whose mutual dependence benefits members of each species -- are as fundamental a resource as sun and moisture.

Warren et al observed ants at four seed-bait stations by reviewing 96 hours of video footage, and scored 210 ant visits for ant behavior and species identity. "Our results show that ants clearly prefer larger seeds to smaller seeds," said Warren. "A comprehensive analysis of ant- and non-ant dispersed plants suggests that small-seeded plants must then release their seeds very early in spring when ant foraging is unreliable to avoid competing with the larger seeds, which are released later in spring, for ant attention." Plants that are not ant-dispersed show no restraints on when they can release small seeds.

These results suggest that mutualistic partners are as essential a resource as nonliving resources. "Ecological interactions are defined by more than either competition or mutualism," said Warren. "It's likely that both are involved."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SUNY Buffalo State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert J. Warren, Itamar Giladi, Mark A. Bradford. Competition as a mechanism structuring mutualisms. Journal of Ecology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12203

Cite This Page:

SUNY Buffalo State. "Plants compete for friendly ants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114114138.htm>.
SUNY Buffalo State. (2014, January 14). Plants compete for friendly ants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114114138.htm
SUNY Buffalo State. "Plants compete for friendly ants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114114138.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. 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