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Predatory and trophobiont-tending ants respond differently to fig and fig wasp volatiles

Ranganathan, Yuvaraj and Borges, Renee M (2009) Predatory and trophobiont-tending ants respond differently to fig and fig wasp volatiles. In: Animal Behaviour, 77 (6). pp. 1539-1545.

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The interaction between figs and their pollinating or parasitic fig wasps is mediated largely by chemical communication. These fig wasps are often preyed upon by predatory ants. In this study, we found that predatory ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) patrolling Ficus racemosa trees were attracted to the odour from fig syconia at different developmental phases, as well as to the odours of fig wasps, whereas other predatory ants (Technomyrmex albipes) responded only to odours of syconia from which fig wasps were dispersing and to fig wasp odour. However, trophobiont-tending ants (Myrmicaria brunnea) patrolling the same trees and exposed to the same volatiles were unresponsive to fig or fig wasp odours. The predatory ants demonstrated a concentration-dependent response towards volatiles from figs receptive to pollinators and those from which wasps were dispersing while the trophobiont-tending ants were unresponsive to such odours at all concentrations. Naive predatory ants failed to respond to the volatiles to which the experienced predatory ants responded, indicating that the response to fig-related odours is learned. We suggest that predatory ants could use fig-associated volatiles to enhance their probability of wasp encounter and can eavesdrop on signals meant for pollinators. (C) 2009 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to The ELsevier Science.
Keywords: ant-plant interaction; associative learning; eavesdropping; mutualism; Myrmicaria brunnea; Oecophylla smaragdina; plant volatile; Technomyrmex albipes
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2010 08:58
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 05:36
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/21158

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