Ant and rattan associations in forest of tropical Africa

  • TCH Sunderland African Rattan Research Programme, Limbe, Cameroon


Recent fieldwork aimed at increasing our knowledge of the taxonomy and ecology of African rattans has indicated that there is a significant relationship between these climbing palms and a number of ant species. A closer investigation into this relationship has found that the morphology of rattan palms is particularly well-suited for the colonisation of ants as they are provided with a wide range of domatia, or “little houses” for them to inhabit. Although there seems not to be a symbiotic relationship between ants and rattans in Africa, there is a clear relationship between which species of ant colonises individual rattan species indicating that there is some level of ant and rattan specificity. The management implications of this are not clear at present but may become more significant as more intensive production systems for rattans in Africa become more common.

Keywords: Africa, rattans, ants, morphology, symbiosis

Ghana Journal of Forestry Vol. 15&16 2004: 13-19

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0855-1707