Bambusoideae

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
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Bamboo species can grow quickly and often have hollow culms (stems) that are exploited as a nesting resource by a handful of bamboo-specialist ants.

From Schellerich-Kaaden et al. 1997:

Bamboo species, mainly giant forms, are very common plants in the tropical regions of South East Asia. Especially their hollow culm internodes, which often are opened by wood-boring insects, birds or mammals, offer a widespread and well accepted microhabitat for many animals (Medway and Marshall 1970, 1972, Corbet 1983, Kurihara 1983, Kovac 1994, Winkler et al. 1995, Schellerich and Maschwitz, unpublished observations). Additionally the branch internodes and the branch and leaf insertions offer well suited shelters for many small arboreal ants (Schellerich and Maschwitz, in preparation). So these tropical giant bamboos are of unique and eminent ecological significance in their habitats as they are a fast growing, common and constant source of microhabitats for all kinds of animals, especially ants.

During our investigations on bamboo inhabiting ants and their trophobionts (Maschwitz et al. 1986, 1987, 1988, Dorow & Maschwitz 1990, KLEIN et al. 1992, 1993, Buschinger et al. 1994) we recently discovered that some ant species are highly specialized on bamboo in a one-sided way (Dorow & Maschwitz 1990, KLEIN et al. 1992, Buschinger et al. 1994). On the plant side no mutualistic coadaptations such as the provisioning of specialized nesting space (domatia) could be recognized. Some bamboo species however, possess extrafloral nectaries, especially on their young shoots (Maschwitz et al. 1986, KovAc 1994, Schellerich and Maschwitz, in preparation). Extrafloral nectaries are common in many other tropical rainforest plants (Bentley and Elias 1983, Oliveira and Oliveira-Filho 1991, Fiala et al. 1994) and there is growing evidence that ants visiting these structures protect the plants against herbivores (Bentley 1977, Buckley 1982, Jouvet 1986, Koptur 1992).

Bamboo species

Guadua

Guadua is a Neotropical genus of thorny, clumping bamboos that are moderate to very large plants. Guadua angustifolia is notably the largest species of bamboo in the Neotropics. The genus is similar to Bambusa and is sometimes considered part of this genus. Guadua occur from Mexico and Trinidad to Uruguay, with most species concentrated in the Amazon basin and the Orinoco basin. They typically grow at low altitudes (below 1,500 m), but have been found up to 2,500 m. Its habitats include lowland tropical and lower-montane forest, savannas, Cerrados, gallery forest, and disturbed inter-Andean valley vegetation. Guadua bamboos readily invade forest gaps, where they form monospecific stands that can arrest forest succession (Wikipedia and Griscom and Ashton 2003).

Azteca fasciata, Camponotus atriceps, and Camponotus depressus have been found nesting in stems of Guadua paniculata.

References

  • Leite, G.A., Pinheiro, R.T. et al. 2013. Foraging behavior of Kaempfer's Woodpecker (Celeus obrieni), a bamboo specialist. The Condor 115: 221-229 (DOI 10.1525/cond.2013.120062).
  • Schellerich-Kaaden, A. L.; Dorow, W. H. O.; Liefke, C.; Klein, R. W.; Maschwitz, U. 1997. Biology of Polyrhachis schellerichae, a specialized bamboo-dwelling species from the Malay Peninsula. Senckenbergiana biologica. 77:77-87.