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Ant-aphid mutualism: the influence of ants on the aphid summer cycle
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
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2012 (English)In: Oikos, ISSN 0030-1299, E-ISSN 1600-0706, Vol. 121, no 1, 61-66 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There are few longtime studies on the effects on aphids of being tended by ants. The aim of this study is to investigate how the presence of ants influences settling decisions by colonizing aphids and the post-settlement growth and survival of aphid colonies. We conducted a field experiment using the facultative myrmecophile Aphis fabae and the ant Lasius niger. The experiment relied on natural aphid colonization of potted plants of scentless mayweed Tripleurospermum perforatum placed outdoors. Ants occurred naturally at the field site and had access to half of the pots and were prevented from accessing the remainder. The presence of winged, dispersing aphids, the growth and survival of establishing aphid colonies, and the presence of parasitoids were measured in relation to presence or absence of ants, over a period of five weeks. The presence of ants did not significantly influence the pattern of initial host plant colonization or the initial colony growth, but ant-tended aphids were subject to higher parasitism by hymenopteran parasitoids. The net result over the experimental period was that the presence of ants decreased aphid colony productivity, measured as the number of winged summer migrants produced from the colonized host plants. This implies that aphids do not always benefit from the presence of ants, but under some conditions rather pay a cost in the form of reduced dispersal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 121, no 1, 61-66 p.
National Category
Zoology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-71655DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2011.19387.xISI: 000298484200007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-71655DiVA: diva2:485419
Available from: 2012-01-29 Created: 2012-01-29 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Dynamics of the aphid-ant mutualism
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dynamics of the aphid-ant mutualism
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

An appreciation of the role of mutualism is essential when studying ecology and evolution in most ecosystems. Information covering aspects of mutualistic interactions can serve as a complement to the somewhat one-sided perspective from the 1950’s and 60’s that is used when teaching biology. In this thesis I applied an in-depth approach in which variation in the interspecific interaction between Aphis fabae aphids and Lasius niger ants was studied both in the field and in the laboratory. An emphasis was put on studies spanning several consecutive aphid generations. This approach revealed important differences between ant tended aphids and those without ants. In the lab, I found an initial decrease in aphid adult size and reproductive investment in the first generations after the start of ant tending, which was followed by a recovery to the pre-tending situation after about four generations. Another laboratory experiment showed an increase in alate (winged aphid) production from exposure to aphid alarm pheromones, and an even stronger decrease in alate production from ant attendance, suggesting that ants have gained the upper hand in an evolutionary conflict over aphid dispersal. Results from a field experiment further emphasized the possibility of negative effects of ants on aphids, showing that ant-tended aphid colonies experienced a higher rate of parasitoid attacks, produced fewer alates and embryos in adult aphids. The thesis highlights the scope for variation in the net effect of the interaction for aphids, and argues that, depending on the environmental circumstances, the interaction may sometimes and perhaps even often not really be a case of mutualism. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2015. 24 p.
Keyword
mutualism, transgenerational, aphids, aphid-ant, conflict of interest, (E)-β-farnesene, phenotypic plasticity, predation risk, wing induction, maternal effect, reproductive investment, embryo size
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-111301 (URN)978-91-7649-076-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-02-06, Ahlmannsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2014-12-30 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved

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