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Ants visit nectaries of Epidendrum denticulatum (Orchidaceae) in a Brazilian rainforest: effects on herbivory and pollination

Author(s): Almeida A. M. | Figueiredo R. A.

Journal: Brazilian Journal of Biology
ISSN 1519-6984

Volume: 63;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 551;
Date: 2003;
Original page

Keywords: ant-plant interaction | foraging behaviour | extrafloral nectaries | pollination ecology

Epidendrum denticulatum (Orchidaceae) produces nectar on the petioles of buds, flowers, and fruits (extrafloral nectaries) but no nectar is found on its flowers, and it is probably a deceptive species. In the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest, some aspects of both the ecology and behavior of Camponotus sericeiventris (Formicinae) and Ectatomma tuberculatum (Ponerinae), two ant species foraging on E. denticulatum extrafloral nectaries, were investigated. Both experiments, using termites as baits and field observations, suggest that these ant species are able to prevent reproductive organ herbivory, without affecting pollinator behaviour. Since a low fruit set is often cited as a characteristic of the family, especially for deceptive species, ants attracted to orchid inflorescences protect reproductive structures and increase the probability of pollination success. Epidendrum denticulatum flowers were visited and probably pollinated by Heliconius erato (Nymphalidae) and Euphyes leptosema (Hesperiidae).
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