CEIBA Research, Guyana (Image 2)
June 14, 2010
CEIBA Research, Guyana (Image 2) In an "Ant Garden." There is a little known, yet facinating, relationship that exists between ants and plants known as an "ant garden." Busy worker ants will assemble a group of tropical epiphytes. Epiphytes are nonparasitic plants that are not rooted and therefore grow above the ground surface using other plants or objects for support. Approximately 10 per cent of all seed plants and ferns fall in this category, as well as many mosses and lichens. To assemble the "garden," the ants bring seeds from the epiphytes to their nest, and as the seeds germinate and grow, they are nourished by composting detritus -- loose material that results from rock disintegration or abrasion -- which is brought back to the nests by worker ants. The roots of the growing plants intertwine, and become a permant part of the colony's home. The mature plants will provide the colony with fruit pulp and nector. This image was taken as part of research centered at CEIBA Biological Center, Inc. in Guyana, by Dr. Godfrey Bourne of the Department of Biology at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. Dr. Bourne is currently program director of the Behavioral Systems Cluster, Division of Integrative Organismal Biology at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Bourne is personally involved (both monetarily and with his time) in administrating CEIBA Biological Center Inc. as a nonprofit research, education and conservation field station in Guyana. Research opportunities for postdoctoral associates, graduate and undergraduate students are available in Guyana on a diversity of organisms. This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation. [One of several related images. See Next Image.] (Date of Image: 2004-2006)
Topics: Environment, Ayahuasca, Plant morphology, Myrmicinae, Symbiosis, Biology, Guyana, Epiphyte, Ceiba, Vespoidea, Hymenoptera, Ant, Seed, CEIBA Biological Center Inc.