Symposium: Insect Behavioral Ecology--'91: Plants with Extrafloral Nectaries and Ants in Everglades Habitats

Suzanne Koptur

Abstract


The terrestrial vegetation of the inland areas of the Everglades is of three main types, occurring on oolite limestone substrate of progressively higher elevation: sawgrass prairie, or glade; pineland; and hardwood hammock. Nectar-drinking ant abundance was assessed using transects of honey baits, and is highest in pineland, and lowest in glade habitat. Recruitment of ants to baits is also highest in pineland. Out of 891 species of vascular plants in Everglades National Park, 78 spp. (9%) in 29 families have extrafloral nectaries. The proportion of species with extrafloral nectaries was highest in pineland, as was the proportion of individuals with extrafloral nectaries. The pinelands, with the greatest nectar-drinking ant abundance, have the most plants with extrafloral nectaries. Eight ant species have been collected at honey baits, and four species are regular visitors to extrafloral nectaries of plants. Nectary-visiting ants are potential protectors of plants against herbivores.

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