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Effects of frost on wildflowers: an unexpected consequence of climate change--image 06 of 22

Ants (Formica obscuripes) searching for extrafloral nectar on the involucral bracts around a flower head in bud in the frost-sensitive herb Helianthella quinquenervis. The ants help to deter oviposition by flies (Tephritidae) that try to lay eggs on the flower heads. Because fly larvae eat developing seeds, the ants benefit the plants. Thus, the ant / herb interaction represents a mutualism. This mutualism can be disrupted if flower buds are killed by frost, as they won't secrete the extrafloral nectar. But frost also negatively impacts the flies, as frost-killed buds provide no food for the fly larvae.
Temporal and geographic description July, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL), Colorado
Resource Group A slide show about the effects of frost on Colorado wildflowers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.
Resource Group Link
Special Collection
Primary or BEN resource type
Secondary resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords extrafloral nectar, Formica, ant, mutualism, RMBL
Key taxa Helianthella quinquenervis (Asteraceae)
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description The slide show could be used as part of a lecture on the consequences of climate change, or the ecology of the Rocky Mountains.
Uniqueness A common wildflower in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, but one of only a few with extrafloral nectaries and a mutualism with ants.
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author David W. Inouye
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Dept. of Biology
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-4415
Primary Author email
Secondary Author Email(s)
Added By Id
  • dwinouye
Submitter Name David Inouye
Submitter Email
Rights Free use with attribution. Contact photographer if you want a higher-resolution version. And contact author if you'd like a single file with all the slides so you don't have to download them one at a time (this capability may be added to EcoEd in the future).
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection On
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2011-12-01
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2012-01-04 09:17:41
Last Modified By Id
  • mcmilla
Date Last Modified 2013-04-01 21:14:27
Release Flag Published

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