Invasive ant interferes with gecko’s role in pollinating endangered plant
November 28, 2008
Nectar-feeding male P. cepediana day gecko approaching a flower of T. blackburniana. Photo by Dennis Hansen.
Invasive ants are destroying the symbiotic relationship between a colorful gecko and a critically endangered flower on the island of Mauritius, reports New Scientist citing research published by Dennis Hansen and Christine Müller in the journal Biotopica.
Hansen and Müller found that the blue-tailed gecko (Phelsuma cepediana) — a species responsible for pollination and seed dispersal of the Roussea simplex shrub — avoids plants that have been colonized by the invasive white-footed ant (Technomyrmex albipes). Colonized individuals have lower seed counts, suggesting that ants are taking a toll on the rare species.
Hansen and Müller led research published last year in American Naturalist revealing the importance of the day gecko in pollination of plants endemic to Mauritius: Neon green gecko key to preventing Mauritian plant extinction (April 17, 2007)
- Dennis M. Hansen and Christine B. Müller. Invasive Ants Disrupt Gecko Pollination and Seed Dispersal of the Endangered Plant Roussea simplex in Mauritius. Published Online: Oct 31 2008 DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2008.00473.x
- Matt Kaplan. Invasive ant ruins gecko’s sweet relationship. New Scientist 28 November 2008