Ant Plants, Macaranga
Living reference work entry
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The paleotropical plant genus Macaranga (Euphorbiaceae) comprises approximately 280 species with a geographic range from West Africa to Asia, North Australia, and Fiji. Most Macaranga species are light-demanding pioneer trees that naturally grow in secondary forest, along riverbanks, or in forest gaps (Fig. 1a, b). In Southeast Asia Macaranga are mainly found in humid forest, with their center of distribution being the lowland dipterocarp rainforest areas. Due to human activities, potential habitats for these pioneer species have largely increased during the last century, so that Macaranga species are now frequently found along roadsides and forest edges and in logged areas. A conspicuous feature of many Macaranga species is their close association with ants. Around 30 species of Macaranga in Southeast Asia have obligate associations with ants, such that the plants cannot survive over long periods of time without ants partners to defend them against herbivores [ 3,...
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