Forest Speaks


Plant - animal Interactions

When the Dipteryx tree drops its fruit, the agouti burys some seeds to eat later.These seeds may escape from insects and other animals that would like to eat them. Burried seeds may be the only seeds to grow into new trees.

In areas where people have killed all of the agoutis, tree species like Dipteryx become more and more rare.

Monica Mejia (project assistant) ties strings to seeds so that she can see how far they are moved by animals.

Without the tiny wasps that enter a fig fruit to pollinate the flowers inside, fig trees would also become more scarce, depriving monkeys, peccaries, bats and other forest animals of an important source of food.

Allen Herre studies interactions between figs, the wasps that pollinate them, and the tiny nematodes that may kill the wasps.

Rainer Wirth (doctoral student) shows visitors a line of leaf cutter ants carrying leaves from a tree to their nest.

Leaf cutter ants climb to the tops of trees to harvest the leaves that they use to fertilize the fungus growing in their nest. The holes that they cut in the canopy allow more light to reach plants growing below.