Interspecific Interaction


Organisms are not isolated, and to survive and reproduce most have evolved in ways that require them to use a combination of their own genetic information and that of other species. Hence, interspecific interactions, or interactions between individuals of different species, are one of the most important processes influencing the patterns of adaptation and variation of species.

Keywords: interspecific interactions; antagonism; mutualism; variation of interactions; coevolution

Figure 1.

Ants foraging for nectar from extrafloral nectaries. (a) Crematogaster brevispinosa on Turnera ulmifolia (Turneraceae). (b) Camponotus abdominalis on Inga vera (Leguminosae). (c) C. brevispinosa on the leaf of a shrubby legume.

Figure 2.

The ant Camponotus sereceiventris foraging for honeydew from a honeydew‐producing membracid (Homoptera).

Figure 3.

The ant Crematogaster brevispinosa removing seeds (b) from the fruits of Turnera ulmifolia (a, c). Note the fleshy arile on the seed (d), which acts as reward for the ant.


Further Reading

Abrahamson WG (ed.) (1989) Plant–Animal Interactions. New York: McGraw‐Hill.

Howe HF and Westley LC (1988) Ecological Relationships of Plants and Animals. New York: Oxford University Press.

Puterbaugh MN (1998) The roles of ants as flower visitors: experimental analysis in three alpine plant species. Oikos 83: 36–46.

Rico‐Gray V, Barber JT, Thien LB, Ellgaard EG and Toney JJ (1989) An unusual animal–plant interaction: feeding of Schomburgkia tibicinis by ants. American Journal of Botany 76: 603–608.

Rico‐Gray V and Thien LB (1989) Effect of different ant species on the reproductive fitness of Schomburgkia tibicinis (Orchidaceae). Oecologia 81: 487–489.

Rico‐Gray V, García‐Franco JG, Palacios‐Rios M, Díaz‐Castelazo C, Parra‐Tabla V and Navarro JA (1998) Geographical and seasonal variation in the richness of ant–plant interactions in Mexico. Biotropica 30: 190–200.

Thompson JN (1982) Interaction and Coevolution. New York: Wiley.

Thompson JN (1994) The Coevolutionary Process. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Thompson JN (1999) The evolution of species interactions. Science 284: 2116–2118.

Wilkinson DM (1999) Ants, agriculture and antibiotics. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 459–460.

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How to Cite close
Rico‐Gray, Victor(Apr 2001) Interspecific Interaction. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003280]