Are ants attracted to herbivorized leaves of Caryocar brasiliense Camb. (Caryocaraceae)?


  • Verônica Bernardino de S. Magalhães Universidade Federal de Goiás, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Departamento de Ecologia
  • Viviane Gianluppi Ferro Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Zoologia


ant-plant interaction, artificial herbivory, Cerrado, induced defense, Optimal Defense Theory


Abstract Different profiles of secondary compounds are released by plants after herbivore attack. Many of these compounds are used by predators and parasitoids to locate herbivores that are damaging leaves. Such an induced indirect defense was tested with the Caryocar brasiliense-ant system in the dry season, when C. brasiliense has old leaves, and in the rainy season, when C. brasiliense has new leaves. A total of 20 plants were analyzed per season. Two opposite leaves of the same branch were selected for each plant. Approximately 40% of the area of one leaf was removed (treatment leaf) while the other leaf remained intact (control). The number of ants that visited each leaf was counted simultaneously for a period of 15 minutes and the mean difference in ant number was tested by paired t-test. The mean number of ants differed significantly between treatment and control only in the rainy season (t = 3.004, df = 19, p = 0.007). This finding suggests the presence of induced defense in this system only when the leaves are young. The study supports the Optimal Defense Theory since young leaves of C. brasiliense with artificial damage attracted significantly more ants than leaves without damage and represents the first evidence of an induced defense mechanism in the C. brasiliense-ant system.




How to Cite

Magalhães, V. B. de S., & Ferro, V. G. (2020). Are ants attracted to herbivorized leaves of Caryocar brasiliense Camb. (Caryocaraceae)?. Biota Neotropica, 20(3). Retrieved from