Tuesday, May 12, 2015
2015 Presidential Address
Ant Plant Mutualisms
MCZ 101, 26 Oxford Street, Harvard University
Mutualistic symbioses between ants and plants are a common feature of the tropics. Hundreds of different plants throughout the world have evolved cavities in which ant colonies can live, and even special organs that provide food for the ants. In return, the ants protect their trees against the encroachment of other plants and against herbivores–even herbivores as large as giraffe and elephant!
In my talk for the CEC, I will present some of the diversity of ant-plant mutualisms, and also discuss my own research into one particular ant-plant, the whistling-thorn acacia, Vachellia drepanolobium. This ant-plant is unusual in that four different ant species compete for space on the tree, and all four ant species appear to cheat on the tree in different ways: some prune off its flowers, others tend sap-sucking scale insects, and so on. I will discuss my research on the colony-level underpinnings of this wide diversity in ant behavior.
The talk is free and open to the public. The meeting is readily accessible via public transportation. Parking is available in the Oxford Street Garage with advance arrangement, as described here, or (usually but not always) at spaces on nearby streets. Everyone is also welcome to join us for dinner before the talk (beginning at 6:00 PM) at Cambridge Common restaurant, on 1667 Massachusetts Ave.
CEC meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month from October through May. The evening schedule typically includes an informal dinner (6:00 to 7:15 PM) followed by our formal meeting (7:30 – 9:00 PM). The latter begins with club business and is followed by a 50 minute entomology related presentation. Membership is open to amateur and professional entomologists.