Don't get too close to this tree! The Tangarana Tree (Triplaris americana, Triplaris poepiggiana) is protected by an aggressive species of fire ant (Pseudomyrmex dendroicus). Arturo explains more in this, the first episode of ARCtv. The ants clear an area around the tree which reduces competition for light from nearby plants. They cut leaves and stems of other plants which grow too close to their host tree. Closer inspection will reveal that the ants patrol the tree trunk, getting in and out restlessly from tiny entrances through the tree bark. Inside the tree, there is a species of aphid that feeds on the sap of the tree and produces a sweet secretion that the ants drink. The Musician Wren also has a relationship with the tree. The wren is the only bird which nests in the Tangarana Tree. It apparently gives no benefit to the Tangarana, but there are two theories as to why the ants do not attack the nest: Either the dry leaves it builds the nest with present no threat, or the leaves with which it builds its nest have a chemical that repels the ants. In the first episode of ARCtv, Volunteer Arturo Guimera from Spain gives us the low down about the symbiotic relationships between this common tree in the forest and these rather fiery ants.
Tangarana tree (Triplaris surinamensis)
Tangarana ant (Pseudomyrmex dendroicus)
Produced by Leo Plunkett at Relevant Films (relevantfilms.co.uk) in association with Fauna Forever Volunteer Programs (faunaforever.org).
Music by Kevin Figes (kevinfiges.co.uk)
Scripted and presented by Arturo Oliver Guimera
This video was created to download and share freely for educational purposes. It may not be used or reproduced for commercial purposes (for monetary gain or the promotion of any private entity) without express permission from the Alliance for Research and Conservation in the Amazon (ARCAmazon) who can be contacted using info [at] conservetheamazon [dot] org.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)