Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Co-evolución entre la planta y la hormiga: una evaluación sistemática del Myrmelachista haberi (Formicinae) y el simbiosis de Ocotea sp. (Lauraceae)



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Publication Date

May 2009


I have evaluated the relationship between Myrmelachista haberi and Ocotea sp. (Los Llanos) to provide definitive evidence supporting the nature of the symbiosis and possible explanations in terms of co-evolutionary history. This interaction has been described in terms of benefit to the ant-domatia and nutrition via phloem-feeder farming – but benefits from the plants perspective have gone largely unstudied. McNett (2009) attempted to quantify the nature of the relationship by monitoring the uptake and movement of stable isotopes through each of the three participating species. This study found that nutrients do not transfer between the organisms, but left the possibilities for alternative vectors of mutualism open. In our study I have systematically evaluated this interaction in terms of all conventional ant-plant services: (1) the tendency of the ants to clean the leaves of foreign (invasive) matter, (2) the foraging behavior of the ants, and (3) the effect the presence of ants has on herbivory and response to disturbance. Myrmelachista haberi do not remove foreign matter from the leaves, do not prefer to feed on the leaves, nor do they respond to herbivory damage on the leaves. My results provide definitive evidence supporting that the nature of the relationship is not a mutualism.


He evaluado la relación entre Myrmelachista haberi y Ocotea sp. (Los Llanos) para proporcionar apoyo a pruebas definitivas de la naturaleza de la simbiosis y las posibles explicaciones en términos de la historia co-evolutiva.


Ants--Behavior, Mutualism (Biology), Symbiosis, CIEE Spring 2009

Palabras claves

Hormigas--Comportamiento, Mutualismo (Biología), Simbiosis, CIEE Primavera 2009


10 pages

Geographic Location

Los Llanos (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





Ant-plant coevolution: a systematic evaluation of the Myrmelachista haberi (Formicinae) and Ocotea sp. (Lauraceae) symbiosis, May 2009



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