Ant-gardens on the giant bamboo gigantochloa scortechinii(Poaceae) in West-Malaysia

Hashim, Rosli and Kaufmann, E. and Weissflog, A. and Maschwitz, U. (2001) Ant-gardens on the giant bamboo gigantochloa scortechinii(Poaceae) in West-Malaysia. Insectes Sociaux, 48 (2). pp. 125-133. ISSN 0020-1812, DOI

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We report the first experimental evidence of seed collecting behavior in an ant-garden-inhabiting ant species in the Palaeotropics. Vascular epiphytes growing on the giant bamboo Gigantochloa scortechinii (Poaceae) were collected at Ulu Gombak, West Malaysia. Sixteen epiphyte species were growing in carton-nests of seven ant species. All epiphytes on bamboo were associated with ants. The most frequent ant species (Crematogaster sp. 1, Myrmicinae) apparently nests only on bamboo. It was tested for its behavior towards the seeds of three epiphyte species (Dischidia nummularia (Asclepiadaceae), Aeschynanthus fecundus, Aeschynanthus albidus (Gesneriaceae)) and one non-epiphyte species (Emilia sonchifolia (Asteraceae)). Most of the offered epiphytes' seeds were carried to the nest, while the seeds of the non-epiphyte were ignored or even discarded. There were no species-specific differences among the epiphytes' seeds. We hypothesize that seed-collecting behavior is necessary for the establishment of ant-garden associations and for the colonization of bamboo culms by epiphytes. The smooth-surfaced and relatively short-lived bamboo culms would not host epiphytes without the mediation of the ants. We suspect that ants may also have a great influence on the distribution of epiphytes on other hosts. In this paper we describe ants as active nest builders and seed collectors that give certain epiphytes the opportunity to live in open and sun exposed habitats on bamboo. Benefits to the ants are discussed as well.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science Building, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
Uncontrolled Keywords: Epiphytes, Ant-garden, Giant bamboo, Seed dispersal, Mutualism, Dischidia asclepiadaceae, Crematogaster, Formicidae, Epiphytes, Plants
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science > Institute of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Miss Malisa Diana
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2013 04:09
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2019 09:07

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