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Hsun-Yi Hsieh, Heidi Liere, Estelí J. Soto and Ivette Perfecto Cascading trait-mediated interactions induced by ant pheromones Ecology and Evolution 2

Version of Record online: 27 JUL 2012 | DOI: 10.1002/ece3.322

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We experimentally demonstrate a cascade of trait-mediated indirect interactions involving two TMII units: (1) an ant–hemipteran mutualism unit, where the ants interfere with the ability of coccinellid predators to attack scale insects, and (2) a phorid fly-ant-hemipteran unit where the phorid flies reduce the foraging activity of the ants thus reducing their ability to interfere with the coccinellid predator. Through a series of experiments, we demonstrate that the gravid female coccinellid beetles indeed eavesdrop on the ant pheromone to find a window of opportunity to oviposit and hide their eggs in high-quality microsites with high densities of their prey. This level of tight connection between a beetle predator and an ant that tends a hemipteran prey is unique in the scientific literature.

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