Open Access: CC BY 4.0


Orivel, J. & Leroy, C.

Year: 2011


The diversity and ecology of ant gardens (Hymenoptera: Formicidae; Spermatophyta: Angiospermae)

Journal: Myrmecological News

Volume: 14

Pages: 73-85

Type of contribution: Review Article

Supplementary material: No


Mutualistic interactions between ants and plants are important features of many ecosystems, and they can be divided into three main categories: dispersal and protective mutualisms and myrmecotrophy. In both the Neotropics and the Southeastern Asian Paleotropics, ant gardens (AGs), a particular type of ant-plant interaction, are frequent. To initiate AGs, ants integrate the seeds of certain epiphyte species into the carton of their nest. The development of the plants leads to the formation of a cluster of epiphytes rooted in the carton. They have been defined as one of the most complex associations between ants and plants known because of the plurispecific, but also specialized nature of the association involving several phylogenetically-distant ant and plant species. The aim of this review is to provide a synthesis of the diversity and ecology of AGs, including the outcomes experienced by the partners in the interaction and the direct and indirect impacts ant-garden ants have on the plant and arthropod communities.

Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0. © 2011 The Author(s).

Key words:

Ant-plant interactions, epiphytes, mutualisms, Neotropics, Paleotropics, phytotelm, parabiosis, seed dispersal, review.

Publisher: The Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics

ISSN: Print: 1994-4136 - Online: 1997-3500