Roadside Ménage à Trois: A Native Pest on an Exotic Orchid Weed Defended by Ants?
Cuevas-Padró, Ana Almisa
Ackerman, James D.
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The resource concentration hypothesis states that herbivores are more likely to find and remain on hosts that are growing in dense stands. Some areas in the Rio Abajo Reserve of Puerto Rico have dense populations of Spathoglottis plicata. This exotic orchid is attacked by a native florivorous weevil, Stethobarispolita, an orchid specialist. Florivory may damage reproductive parts or reduce attractiveness to pollinators reducing frequency of pollination. Spathoglottis plicatashows higher fruit set than expected for a non-rewarding species, suggesting autopollination. Under those circumstances florivory would adversely affect pollination and fruit production only if damage to reproductive structures either directly or indirectly through secondary infections. Spathoglottis plicata possesses extrafloralnectarines which are frequently visited by ants. The ants in turn may defend its resources. This project evaluates the role of ants and weevils in the fruit production of S. plicata and explores it in terms of orchid densities.