Talking Caterpillars: Summary
Let's summarize what we've covered:
- Interactions between different species are categorized by whether
they are beneficial, harmful, or neutral
to each of the species. For example, if both species benefit, the interaction
is a "mutualism."
- The outcome of interactions (beneficial, harmful, or neutral) can
change depending on the circumstances under which the two species interact.
Thus, interactions are "context-dependent."
- Interactions are also categorized according to whether they are...
- specialized or generalized
(does a partner interact with many other species, or only a few?)
- obligate or facultative (does
a species have to participate in the interaction to survive, or
can they take it or leave it?)
- Ants participate in many mutualisms, and they often provide protection
in exchange for food (example: ants and aphids).
- Many members of the butterfly family Lycaenidae
form associations with ants. Most of these interactions are mutualistic,
but some are parasitic, predatory, or commensal.
- These caterpillars communicate with ants using sound,
and three organs: the pore cupolas,
the dorsal nectary gland, and the
tentacular organs (TOs).
- There are many hypotheses for the function
and mechanism of the TOs. In the case of the lycaenid Hemiargus
isola, the research of Dr. Jen Weeks provides support for the
- The TOs provide indirect defense for the caterpillar by making
attendant ants more aggressive.
- The TOs produce a non-volatile or low-volatile stimulus.
End of talking caterpillars module.