Carter, Benjamin Elijah
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The interaction between myrmecophytes and their obligate ant colonies, particularly that between ants and acacias, has been a popular example of a mutualism for many years. However, emerging evidence suggests that this interaction is not as simple as was once thought. Myrmecophytes of both the New and Old World are examined with respect to those organisms that are associated with the ant-plant interaction in order to explore the full range of the nature of the interaction. The two extremes of pure mutualism and outright parasitism can both be observed, in addition to varying steps in between. Notably, the plants have never been observed to take advantage of the mutualism in a parasitic manner, but they have been shown to have the ability to maintain mutualism through the use of exclusion filters. Quantitative experiments are cited to support these findings where available, and suggestions are made as to what further research could be done to provide further insight into the nature of myrmecophyte interactions.