Thermal tolerance affects mutualist attendance in an ant-plant protection mutualism

Ginny Fitzpatrick, Michele C. Lanan, Judith L Bronstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mutualism is an often complex interaction among multiple species, each of which may respond differently to abiotic conditions. The effects of temperature on the formation, dissolution, and success of these and other species interactions remain poorly understood. We studied the thermal ecology of the mutualism between the cactus Ferocactus wislizeni and its ant defenders (Forelius pruinosus, Crematogaster opuntiae, Solenopsis aurea, and Solenopsis xyloni) in the Sonoran Desert, USA. The ants are attracted to extrafloral nectar produced by the plants and, in exchange, protect the plants from herbivores; there is a hierarchy of mutualist effectiveness based on aggression toward herbivores. We determined the relationship between temperature and ant activity on plants, the thermal tolerance of each ant species, and ant activity in relation to the thermal environment of plants. Temperature played a role in determining which species interact as mutualists. Three of the four ant species abandoned the plants during the hottest part of the day (up to 40 °C), returning when surface temperature began to decrease in the afternoon. The least effective ant mutualist, F. pruinosus, had a significantly higher critical thermal maximum than the other three species, was active across the entire range of plant surface temperatures observed (13.8-57.0 °C), and visited plants that reached the highest temperatures. F. pruinosus occupied some plants full-time and invaded plants occupied by more dominant species when those species were thermally excluded. Combining data on thermal tolerance and mutualist effectiveness provides a potentially powerful tool for predicting the effects of temperature on mutualisms and mutualistic species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalOecologia
Volume176
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

mutualism
heat tolerance
plant protection
ant
Formicidae
tolerance
temperature
Crematogaster opuntiae
Ferocactus wislizeni
surface temperature
Solenopsis xyloni
herbivores
herbivore
Solenopsis
heat
Sonoran Desert
cactus
Hypsithermal
nectar
aggression

Keywords

  • Abiotic
  • Desert
  • Species interaction
  • Temperature
  • Thermal ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Thermal tolerance affects mutualist attendance in an ant-plant protection mutualism. / Fitzpatrick, Ginny; Lanan, Michele C.; Bronstein, Judith L.

In: Oecologia, Vol. 176, No. 1, 2014, p. 129-138.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Fitzpatrick, Ginny ; Lanan, Michele C. ; Bronstein, Judith L. / Thermal tolerance affects mutualist attendance in an ant-plant protection mutualism. In: Oecologia. 2014 ; Vol. 176, No. 1. pp. 129-138.
@article{97159f7522c5488693db2a360b5d2983,
title = "Thermal tolerance affects mutualist attendance in an ant-plant protection mutualism",
abstract = "Mutualism is an often complex interaction among multiple species, each of which may respond differently to abiotic conditions. The effects of temperature on the formation, dissolution, and success of these and other species interactions remain poorly understood. We studied the thermal ecology of the mutualism between the cactus Ferocactus wislizeni and its ant defenders (Forelius pruinosus, Crematogaster opuntiae, Solenopsis aurea, and Solenopsis xyloni) in the Sonoran Desert, USA. The ants are attracted to extrafloral nectar produced by the plants and, in exchange, protect the plants from herbivores; there is a hierarchy of mutualist effectiveness based on aggression toward herbivores. We determined the relationship between temperature and ant activity on plants, the thermal tolerance of each ant species, and ant activity in relation to the thermal environment of plants. Temperature played a role in determining which species interact as mutualists. Three of the four ant species abandoned the plants during the hottest part of the day (up to 40 °C), returning when surface temperature began to decrease in the afternoon. The least effective ant mutualist, F. pruinosus, had a significantly higher critical thermal maximum than the other three species, was active across the entire range of plant surface temperatures observed (13.8-57.0 °C), and visited plants that reached the highest temperatures. F. pruinosus occupied some plants full-time and invaded plants occupied by more dominant species when those species were thermally excluded. Combining data on thermal tolerance and mutualist effectiveness provides a potentially powerful tool for predicting the effects of temperature on mutualisms and mutualistic species.",
keywords = "Abiotic, Desert, Species interaction, Temperature, Thermal ecology",
author = "Ginny Fitzpatrick and Lanan, {Michele C.} and Bronstein, {Judith L}",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.1007/s00442-014-3005-8",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "176",
pages = "129--138",
journal = "Oecologia",
issn = "0029-8549",
publisher = "Springer Verlag",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Thermal tolerance affects mutualist attendance in an ant-plant protection mutualism

AU - Fitzpatrick, Ginny

AU - Lanan, Michele C.

AU - Bronstein, Judith L

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Mutualism is an often complex interaction among multiple species, each of which may respond differently to abiotic conditions. The effects of temperature on the formation, dissolution, and success of these and other species interactions remain poorly understood. We studied the thermal ecology of the mutualism between the cactus Ferocactus wislizeni and its ant defenders (Forelius pruinosus, Crematogaster opuntiae, Solenopsis aurea, and Solenopsis xyloni) in the Sonoran Desert, USA. The ants are attracted to extrafloral nectar produced by the plants and, in exchange, protect the plants from herbivores; there is a hierarchy of mutualist effectiveness based on aggression toward herbivores. We determined the relationship between temperature and ant activity on plants, the thermal tolerance of each ant species, and ant activity in relation to the thermal environment of plants. Temperature played a role in determining which species interact as mutualists. Three of the four ant species abandoned the plants during the hottest part of the day (up to 40 °C), returning when surface temperature began to decrease in the afternoon. The least effective ant mutualist, F. pruinosus, had a significantly higher critical thermal maximum than the other three species, was active across the entire range of plant surface temperatures observed (13.8-57.0 °C), and visited plants that reached the highest temperatures. F. pruinosus occupied some plants full-time and invaded plants occupied by more dominant species when those species were thermally excluded. Combining data on thermal tolerance and mutualist effectiveness provides a potentially powerful tool for predicting the effects of temperature on mutualisms and mutualistic species.

AB - Mutualism is an often complex interaction among multiple species, each of which may respond differently to abiotic conditions. The effects of temperature on the formation, dissolution, and success of these and other species interactions remain poorly understood. We studied the thermal ecology of the mutualism between the cactus Ferocactus wislizeni and its ant defenders (Forelius pruinosus, Crematogaster opuntiae, Solenopsis aurea, and Solenopsis xyloni) in the Sonoran Desert, USA. The ants are attracted to extrafloral nectar produced by the plants and, in exchange, protect the plants from herbivores; there is a hierarchy of mutualist effectiveness based on aggression toward herbivores. We determined the relationship between temperature and ant activity on plants, the thermal tolerance of each ant species, and ant activity in relation to the thermal environment of plants. Temperature played a role in determining which species interact as mutualists. Three of the four ant species abandoned the plants during the hottest part of the day (up to 40 °C), returning when surface temperature began to decrease in the afternoon. The least effective ant mutualist, F. pruinosus, had a significantly higher critical thermal maximum than the other three species, was active across the entire range of plant surface temperatures observed (13.8-57.0 °C), and visited plants that reached the highest temperatures. F. pruinosus occupied some plants full-time and invaded plants occupied by more dominant species when those species were thermally excluded. Combining data on thermal tolerance and mutualist effectiveness provides a potentially powerful tool for predicting the effects of temperature on mutualisms and mutualistic species.

KW - Abiotic

KW - Desert

KW - Species interaction

KW - Temperature

KW - Thermal ecology

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84906264180&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84906264180&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s00442-014-3005-8

DO - 10.1007/s00442-014-3005-8

M3 - Article

C2 - 25012597

AN - SCOPUS:84906264180

VL - 176

SP - 129

EP - 138

JO - Oecologia

JF - Oecologia

SN - 0029-8549

IS - 1

ER -