ARCTV (Amazon Research and Conservation TV)

Leaf-cutter ant societies are based on ant–fungus mutualism, a symbiosis between ant and fungal species. The ants actively cultivate fungus much like humans farm crops as a food source. The ants and fungi are dependent on each other for survival. They grow this fungus by creating gardens with leaf mulch, which is why they can be seen in their thousands carrying leaves through the forest to their nests. The ants have evolved to change food plants constantly, preventing a colony from completely stripping off leaves and thereby killing trees, thus avoiding negative biological feedback on account of their sheer numbers. However, this does not diminish the huge quantities of foliage they harvest. Once foraging workers locate a resource in their environment, they lay down a pheromone trail as they return to the colony. Other workers then follow the pheromone trail to the resource. As more workers return to the nest, laying down pheremones, the stronger the trail becomes. The strength to which workers adhere to the trail depends mostly on environmental factors, such as the quality of the resource. Colonies can contain more than 8 million ants, mostly sterile female workers.

Thanks to:
Leaf-cutter ants (Acromyrmex)
Army ants

Produced by Leo Plunkett at Relevant Films (relevantfilms.co.uk) in association with Fauna Forever Volunteer Programs (faunaforever.org).

Music by Cinematic Orchestra

Scripted and presented by Matthew de Coutto

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)

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ARCTV (Amazon Research and Conservation TV)

Amazon Academy

ARC TV (Amazon Research and Conservation Television) is a fun feed of short natural history documentaries focused on rainforests and produced by volunteers working in the Amazon. We inspire tomorrow's explorers, scientists and conservationists with fast…


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ARC TV (Amazon Research and Conservation Television) is a fun feed of short natural history documentaries focused on rainforests and produced by volunteers working in the Amazon. We inspire tomorrow's explorers, scientists and conservationists with fast facts, fun videos and epic videography.

The ARC TV series can be shared freely for educational purposes. For example, you can distribute them at a local school. The videos 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). For more information please contact info@conservetheamazon.org.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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