Acacia ants and trees relationship counseling

Ants and Acacia Trees by Alejandro Ruiz on Prezi

acacia ants and trees relationship counseling

There are different kinds of Acacia trees and different types of Ants. Most of the Acacia trees are found in the desert. Ants can be found in a. – The relationship between the Acacia tree and ants is truly remarkable and highly beneficial to both parties. The tree. The ants and the acacia tree have a mutualistic relationship. They both benefit from this relationship. For example, the ants provide protection.

This is surprising since in-depth knowledge of these factors is essential to understand whether mutualism or parasitism is characterized by the evolution of specific traits or combinations of traits such as the genetic colony structure and chemically-mediated recognition of nestmates. In the present study, we applied a comparative approach integrating genetic microsatellite analyses, observations of behavior, and chemical analyses of cuticular hydrocarbon profiles.

In addition to affecting genetic characteristics of colony composition, the different strategies of mutualists and parasites have apparent implications for ant communication and behavior.

Host Plant Use by Competing Acacia-Ants: Mutualists Monopolize While Parasites Share Hosts

The cues used by social insects to distinguish nestmates from foreign individuals are low-volatile chemicals present on the cuticle usually hydrocarbons [20][21]. Colony members share a common chemical signature that is created by the admixture of individual profiles through allogrooming i.

Individuals whose chemical signature deviates from the template are recognized as foreign and often attacked. Aggression between colonies is generally negatively correlated with overall hydrocarbon similarity, e.

acacia ants and trees relationship counseling

Besides their function in nestmate recognition, cuticular hydrocarbon profiles are also species and caste specific [21]. Thus, a combination of chemical analyses of hydrocarbon profiles and behavioral experiments can provide important information on the social association among plant-ants that colonize a given host plant. However, the cuticular hydrocarbon profile — and potentially the corresponding behavior — can be shaped by endogenous, genetic factors as well as exogenous, environmental factors e.

acacia ants and trees relationship counseling

We combined behavioral and chemical data with genetic analyses of two sympatric ant species a mutualist and parasite that colonized ant-acacia species.

This integrative study provides a robust approach for detecting colony boundaries while at the same time allows for evaluating the reliability of the different methods to investigate social organization in insect colonies. This is the first study to integrate these three approaches in two competing species of congeneric mutualistic and parasitic acacia-ants. Our findings highlight the necessity for combining these methods to fully understand how differing life history strategies shape genetic structure and communications of parasitic and mutualistic acacia-ants.

Materials and Methods Ethics statement As the ants and acacias used are wild species that are not protected and because all experiments were conducted on private grounds with permission of the ownersno permits were required to perform the field experiments. At the Pacific coastal site, we included ant colonies that inhabited Acacia hindsii while we used colonies residing on Acacia chiapensis in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Plant and ant species were identified following Janzen [26] and Ward [27]respectively. Both acacia species are myrmecophytes that provide hollow swollen thorns as nesting space and food rewards in form of food bodies and extrafloral nectar.

Host Plant Use by Competing Acacia-Ants: Mutualists Monopolize While Parasites Share Hosts

For each ant species, two plots with eight trees each were investigated. In each plot, we only included plants from one acacia species. Plots of the mutualist P. The eight individual acacias were designated a to h in each plot. We selected the eight closest trees that were inhabited by the same ant species.

The ants protect the tree from herbivores too. When the herbivores try to eat the leaves of the acacia, they cause the branches of the tree to move, this acts as a signal to the ants living in the domatia.

acacia ants and trees relationship counseling

The ants quickly reach the herbivore who is trying consume the leaves, and start stinging it. After some resistance, the herbivore gives up, and leaves the tree alone.

In addition to this, the ants also eliminate any plants that try to grow on, or near the acacia, hence the acacia does not need to compete for resources.

acacia ants and trees relationship counseling

Special Features of the Acacia-Ant Relationship The relationship between the acacia and the ant is characterized by the interesting features mentioned below: Possessiveness of the Ants The acacia and the ants share such a close bond that, as time goes by, the ants become very possessive about the tree on which they dwell.

They also attack other species of ants which try to occupy the tree. Distinct groups of ants usually compete for the acacia. Manipulation by the Acacia The ants attack all the insects which try to feed on the acacia, but it does not harm the pollinators.

Themes of Parasitology: Relationship Advice: Acacia Trees and Ants

According to Wilmer and Stone, the young blossoms of the acacia make a repellent which does not allow the ants to patrol on them. It is believed that this repellent is ineffective once the pollination is over, and thus the ants can move freely on the flowers after the pollination is complete. There are many examples of symbiosis in nature, but very few are as interesting as the relationship between acacia tree and ants.

Similar to the costs for the tree, the cost for the ant includes energy usage in providing protection and defense for the tree. The benefits, however, include shelter and a readily available source of nutrition. The ants require less energy in finding a suitable home for their larvae to develop, and they are not required to forage extensively for food.

Relationship Between Acacia Tree and Ants

Therefore, the energy used in protecting the tree is compensated for by the energy saved in other tasks, so the benefits outweigh the costs. The same logic applies for the acacia tree. Less energy is devoted to producing chemical defenses, so more energy can be applied to producing food for the ants. Therefore, this mutualistic relationship works amazingly well!

An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals.

acacia ants and trees relationship counseling

Connors; with a New Foreword by Daniel Simberloff. University of Chicago,