Ants behave as mini farmers in Fiji

GR:  We just discovered something about ants that has gone on for millions of years.

“Ants found in the Pacific islands of Fiji behave as miniature farmers, carefully sowing and fertilising the seeds of at least six types of plant, a study has said.

“Ants have previously been observed farming fungi for food, but this is the first study to show the insects cultivating plants, said researchers from the University of Munich who published their findings in the journal Nature Plants.

A Squamelaria “field” in a Macaranga tree. Planted and maintained by a colony of Philidris nagasau ants (photo:  Guillaume Chomicki).

“The ant, known as Philidris nagasau, gathers seeds from the fruit of six different types of Squamellaria plant, then nestles them in cracks it finds in trees. They regularly visit the growing seedlings, which form hollow chambers inside the trees. As they expand, the chambers in turn offer nesting space and protection for ant colonies.

“The ants and plants are interdependent and one cannot survive without the other,” said the statement.

“Reconstructing the evolutionary history of the insects and their crops, the authors concluded the relationship stretches back about three million years – long before modern humans, history’s most prolific farmers, even existed.” –Agence France-Presse (Source: Ants behave as mini farmers in Fiji – study)

2 thoughts on “Ants behave as mini farmers in Fiji

  1. One thing about the story that struck me is that the ants have been doing this all along, but we only just now noticed it. How many other complex behaviors do wild animals perform that we haven’t noticed?

    Like

Comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s