Symbiotic relationship between birds and army ants in the rainforest

Symbiotic Relationships: by Truc Nguyen on Prezi

symbiotic relationship between birds and army ants in the rainforest

A massive swarm-raid by an army ant colony is one of the most impressive m2 of forest per day), army ants have a significant impact on tropical forest communities. birds might flush prey back to the ants, making the relationship mutualistic. Ant followers are birds that feed by following swarms of army ants and take prey flushed by It was once suggested that the relationship between the obligate and regular ant-followers and the army ants, particularly Eciton burchellii, was mutualistic, with the ants benefiting by having the birds chase prey back down towards. The relationship between Ecitoninae - the New World army ants, inhabiting the rainforest floor and antbirds - small dull-colored South American bird species.

They generally details vary among species maintain breeding territories but travel outside those territories in order to feed at swarms. Several pairs of the same species may attend a swarm, with the dominant pair at the swarm being the pair which holds the territory that the swarm is in.

symbiotic relationship between birds and army ants in the rainforest

In addition to competition within species, competition among species exists, and larger species are dominant. In its range, the ocellated antbird is the largest of the obligate ant-following antbirds and is dominant over other members of the family, although it is subordinate to various species from other families including certain woodcreepersmotmots and the rufous-vented ground cuckoo.

At a swarm, the dominant species occupies positions above the central front of the swarm, which yields the largest amount of prey. Smaller, less dominant species locate themselves further away from the centre, or higher above the location of the dominant species, where prey is less plentiful. In most species the pair defends a classic territoryalthough the nesting territories of ant followers are slightly different see feeding above.

Territories vary in size from as small as 0. Ocellated antbirds have an unusual social system where the breeding pair forms the nucleus of a group or clan that includes their male offspring and their mates. These clans, which can number up to eight birds, work together to defend territories against rivals. Pair bonds are formed with courtship feedingwhere the male presents food items to the female.

One dominant pair may share a territory with up to six other birds.

Do Antbirds Help or Hinder Army Ants? (Section 1: Background)

The nesting and breeding biology of antbirds have not been well studied. Even in relatively well-known species the breeding behaviour can be poorly known; for example the nest of the ocellated antbird was first described in Antbird nests are cups of vegetation such as twigs, dead leaves and plant fibre, and they follow two basic patterns: Supported nests rest upon branches, amongst vines, in hollows, and sometimes on mounds of vegetation on the ground.

Each species nests at the level where it forages, so a midstory species would build its nest in the midstory. Closely related species nest in the same ways. For example, antvireos in the genus Dysithamnus are all suspension nesters. Small clutch sizes are typical of tropical birds compared to more temperate species of the same size, possibly due to nest predation, although this is disputed. The length of time taken for chicks to hatch is 14—16 days in most species, although some, such as the dusky antbirdcan take as long as 20 days.

The altricial chicks are born naked and blind. Both parents brood the young until they are able to thermoregulatealthough, as with incubation, only the female broods at night. Both parents feed the chicks, often bringing large prey items. When the chicks reach fledging age, after 8—15 days, attending parents call their chicks. As each chick leaves the nest it is cared for exclusively from then on by the parent that was present then.

After the first chick fledges and leaves with a parent the remaining parent may increase the supply of food to speed up the process of fledging.

symbiotic relationship between birds and army ants in the rainforest

After fledging, chicks spend the first few days well hidden as the parents bring them food. Chicks of some species may not become independent of the parents for as long as four months in some antwrens, but two months is more typical for the rest of the family.

Amazing Symbiosis: Ant Army Defends Tree - National Geographic

Do they help or hinder the ants? Most army ants are in one of two genera: Dorylus paleotropics and Eciton neotropics. The army ant lifestyle includes nomadism usually the whole colony movesgroup predation raidsand, often, above-ground nesting.

Although ants in other genera have these behaviors, the extent to which they are developed and combined is unique to the "true" army ants Gotwald An army ant colony typically cycles between two behavioral phases: During the nomadic phase, a colony moves daily, housing the queen and brood in a temporary bivouac, and conducts large foraging raids. During the statary phase, the colony stays in one place for several weeks and conducts small-scale raids during the day.

symbiotic relationship between birds and army ants in the rainforest

The main prey of a raiding army ant colony are leaf-litter invertebrates and the brood of other social hymenoptera ants, bees, and wasps. Workers usually aggregate on prey, collectively subduing and dismembering it Gotwald As a result, army ants can capture prey many times larger than an individual worker. Queen loss can occur due to accidents during emigrations, predator attack, old age or illness.

Ant follower

When a colony loses its queen, the worker ants will usually fuse with another colony that has a queen in a few days. Sexual selection by workers[ edit ] Workers in army ant species have a unique role in selecting both the queen and the male mate.

When the queens emerge, the workers in the colony will form two 'systems' or arms in opposite directions. These queens that are hatched will move down either the arms and only two queens will succeed, one for each branch.

Section 1: Design an Experiment

The remaining new queens will be left in the middle and are abandoned to die. Two new bivouacs will be formed and break off into different directions.

The workers will surround the two to-be queens and ensure they reach the arms and survive. These workers that surround the queens are affected by the CHC pheromone profile emitted from the new queen.

For males to access the queen and mate, they must run through the workers in the colony. Males that are favored are superficially similar in size and shape to the queen. The males also produce large quantities of pheromones to pacify the worker ants. Analysis of genotypes have confirmed that workers are, on average, more closely related to the offspring of the queen than to that of other workers, and that workers rarely, if ever, reproduce.

First, if the worker reproduces, it lowers the general performance of the colony because it is not working. This suggests that if workers produced male offspring, they might be hatched out of sync with the queen's sexual brood and not likely to be successfully reared to adulthood. Underground species prey primarily on ground-dwelling arthropods and their larvaeearthwormsand occasionally also the young of vertebrates, turtle eggs, or oily seeds.

A majority of the species, the "colony robbers", specialize in the offspring of other ants and wasps. Only a few species seem to have the very broad spectrum of prey seen in the raiding species. Even these species do not eat every kind of animal. Although small vertebrates that get caught in the raid will be killed, the jaws of the American Eciton are not suited to this type of prey, in contrast to the African Dorylus.

These undesired prey are simply left behind and consumed by scavengers or by the flies that accompany the ant swarm.