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Extrafloral nectar as entrée and elaiosomes as main course for ant visitors to a fireprone, mediterranean-climate shrub
  • Byron Lamont,
  • James Grey
Byron Lamont
Curtin University

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James Grey
Curtin University
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Thousands of plant species produce both extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) on their leaves and nutrient-rich appendages on their diaspores (elaiosomes). Although their individual ecology is well-known, any possible functional link between them has been ignored. Here, we recognized their co-presence in the shrub, Adenanthos cygnorum (Proteaceae), and studied their function and interaction. We observed that ants frequently visit both structures, seeds are attractive to vertebrate granivores but are released into a leafy cup from where they are harvested by ants and taken to their nests, from which seeds, lacking elaiosomes, germinate after fire. We showed that juvenile plants do not produce EFNs and are not visited by ants. We conclude that EFNs are not just an indirect adaptation to minimize herbivory via aggressive ants (or parasitoid wasps) but specifically enhance reproductive success by inducing ants to visit the plant throughout the year, promoting discovery of the seasonally available, elaiosome-bearing seeds on the plant and transporting them to their nests, so avoiding the risk of granivory should seeds fall to the ground.
19 Aug 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
20 Aug 2022Submission Checks Completed
20 Aug 2022Assigned to Editor
22 Aug 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Sep 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
16 Sep 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
26 Sep 20221st Revision Received
27 Sep 2022Submission Checks Completed
27 Sep 2022Assigned to Editor
27 Sep 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
27 Sep 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
19 Oct 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
20 Oct 20222nd Revision Received
20 Oct 2022Assigned to Editor
20 Oct 2022Submission Checks Completed
20 Oct 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
21 Oct 2022Editorial Decision: Accept