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Enough is enough: The effects of symbiotic ant abundance on herbivory, growth, and reproduction in an African acacia

Understanding how cooperative interactions evolve and persist remains a central challenge in biology. Many mutualisms are thought to be maintained by ‘‘partner fidelity feedback,’’ in which each partner bases their investment on the benefits they receive. Yet, we know little about how benefits change as mutualists vary their investment, which is critical to understanding the balance between mutualism and antagonism in any given partnership. Using an obligate ant–plant mutualism, we manipulated the density of symbiotic acacia ants (Crematogaster mimosae) and

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Effects of simulated shoot and leaf herbivory on vegetative growth and plant defense in Acacia drepanolobium

Plants have considerable ability to respond to herbivory, both with (above-ground) regrowth and with increased defense. We simulated both leaf and shoot herbivory in controlled, replicated experiments on individuals of Acacia drepanolobium in Laikipia, Kenya. These experiments were carried out on individuals that had experienced different, experimentally controlled histories of large mammalian herbivory. Both forms of simulated herbivory were associated with compensatory regrowth. Branches whose shoots had been removed grew significantly more over the next year than paired control branches,

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