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Interactions between species are evolutionary malleable and may suffer changes in small timescales. Environmental disturbances, such as fire, can deeply affect species interactions, but how they influence the outcome of a mutualistic interaction has yet to be studied. In order to test the hypothesis that an environmental disturbance, in this case fire, may produce differences in the outcome of the association of ants with the extrafloral-nectaries-bearing plant Qualea multiflora Mart. (Myrtales: Vochysiaceae), a previous study was replicated, but this time after fire incidence, at the same study site and with the same plant species. Eight ant species visited Q. multiflora, and the most abundant genera were Crematogaster, Cephalotes, and Camponotus. Herbivores were found in branches with and without ants with no statistical difference, but foliar herbivory was always higher in branchs where ants were absent. Leaves were infested by fungi, and fungi spots were higher in branches where ants were present. Compared to the previous study, it was clearly observed that ant benefits to Q. multiflora varied over time. The most common ant species still protected leaves against chewing herbivores, but a new kind of leaf damage appeared, namely fungi spots. Data also support that ants may be acting as vectors of fungi spores on plants, as ant visited branches had higher fungus incidence than non-visited branches. Fire is a major source of disturbance in tropical savannas, and we suggest that it can cause strong variation in the outcomes of interactions between ants and plants with extrafloral nectaries in the Brazilian tropical savanna.
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