Do or Die

An article from Do or Die Issue 5. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 47.


Several species of Pineapple Plant (Bromeliaceae) live in the flood basin of the Amazon in America. In this region water levels rise regally by several metres, thus drowning large numbers of plan terrestrial animals. These floods would certainly destroy the ant nests and undermine the ability of the p reproduce, and so the ants have developed a novel method of solving this problem. The ants have moved into the trees. They search the ground for seeds of the pineapple, take them up into the trees and plant them in soil they have already transported from the ground. These seeds germinate and grow, attaching themselves to branches around them and forming a strong nest-like network of roots, stems and leaves. This plant provides the ants with a much stronger nest than the ant could make itself. Their new home means that they no longer have to risk the dangers of the water and can live their lives above flood water levels. The pineapple benefits from being rescued by the ants from the floods. It is also nearer to the sunlight, ground level photosynthesis can sometimes be very low in the tropical forest. Both species gain considerably from this association.

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