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Symbiotic ants as an alternative defense against giraffe herbivory in spinescent Acacia drepanolobium

We explore here the occurrence of aggressive ants in an apparently symbiotic relationship with the savanna tree Acacia drepanolobium and their effects on giraffe herbivory on the Athi-Kapiti Plains, Kenya. Trees taller than 1.3 m were more likely to be occupied by aggressive ants in the genus Crematogaster than were shorter trees. Ants were concentrated on shoot tips, the plant parts preferred by giraffes. Trees with relatively more foliage had more swarming ants than did trees with less foliage. The feeding behavior of individual

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Not all ants are equal: obligate acacia ants provide different levels of protection against mega-herbivores

In obligate ant–plant mutualisms, the asymmetric engagement of a single plant species with multiple ant species provides the opportunity for partners to vary in their behaviour. Variation in behaviour has implications for the interactions with third-party species such as herbivores. This study assessed the effect of obligate ant mutualists (Crematogaster mimosae, Crematogaster nigriceps and Tetraponera penzigi) inhabiting the African ant-acacia (Acacia drepanolobium) on three mega-herbivore browsers: the Maasai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa c. reticulata) and the

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