Friday, November 30, 2007

Forest Floor In The Rainforest

I am fascinated with the relationships that occur in the rainforest. It seems that every single act represents something sharing part of its life with something else. It puts a whole new light on the word "community" and "sacrifice."

I've been reading, "Journey Through A Tropical Jungle," by Adrian Forsyth. I would like to share this segment with you. It paints such an incredible picture of how important rainforests are not only to the wilder side of life, but to us. What happens in the rainforest affects us all because many of our North American species winter over there and depend on its habitat to survive. The medicinal plants there that are yet to be discovered must not be lost.

Forsyth writes, "Careful to keep out of their path (one army ant sting was more than enough), I gazed at the spectacle unfolding before me. The army of ants surged forward. It was a tremendous feat of chemical coordination and communication among tens of thousands of individuals. Somehow all those ants, working without language or leaders, had managed to organize an effective hunt.

The impact of the hunt could be clearly heard and seen. The forest floor was crackling with activity as insects hopped and lizards scuttled away, trying to flee the ants. I watched the ants mass-attack a scorpion. It struggled briefly, but the ants soon pinned it down securely and cut it to pieces. This was a hungry army.

I noticed that some insects and birds were actually following the ants. When katydids leaped up in the air to avoid the ants, large hairy tacinid flies, which had been swarming around, swooped in. Having spotted the katydids, they tried to lay their eggs on them. The fly maggots could then burrow in and feed on the katydids - that is, if the ants didn't find them first.

Birds were using the same technique, swooping down to pick off insects scared up by the ants. They reminded me of seagulls following behind a tractor for worms.

Trailing the birds were hovering butterflies, delicate slow-flying varieties with long narrow wings. Some had glistening transparent wings like shining stained glass, and others were tiger-striped in orange and black. They were visiting leaves where birds had left droppings and sipping up the nutrients they needed to make butterfly eggs.

So the legion of ants was not only eating its way through the forest, it was feeding another crowd of organisms as it went .....

I had seen yet again how the relationship among different plants and animals were vital strands woven together in a living forest."


WOW! I just want to plant myself on the forest floor and enjoy seemingly simple things of life.

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