Title

Bromeliad-associated reductions in host herbivory; do epiphytic bromeliads act as commensalists or mutualists?

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Biotropica

Volume

46

Issue

1

Publisher

Wiley

Publication Date

1-6-2014

First Page

78

Last Page

82

DOI

10.1111/btp.12073

Abstract

Many members of the family Bromeliacae are able to adopt epiphytic lifestyles and colonize trees throughout the Neotropics. Bromeliacaedo not extract nutrients from their hosts and confer relatively minor costs on their host plants. We suggest that bromeliads, however,may benefit their hosts by providing habitat for predators of host plant herbivores. We report a correlation between bromeliad presenceand a reduction in herbivore damage in orange trees, an effect that is increased when bromeliads are colonized by ants. Our results mayhave important implications for agricultural systems in the Neotropics, where bromeliads are often removed in the belief they are para-sitic. We instead demonstrate that bromeliads may impart a benefit to their hosts, and speculate that under particular circumstances theymay be part of a three-species mutualism.

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