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Why 10 Daily Tons of Ant Poop Keep This Rainforest Thriving

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High up in the rainforest canopy of Panama’s Barro Colorado Island, there are ants everywhere. Azteca ants—one kind of 30 different ant species that might be in a given tree—stand out because of their epic, 9 foot (2.74 meter) tall hanging nests… and the ant poop that falls from them.

What’s the ant poop made of and how does its chemistry affect the ecosystem of the forest? Hazard a guess: Which of these two plants was fertilized with ant poop?


Research Fellow Jane Lucas has been scooping the poop and shares what she’s learned in this clip from Secrets of the Rainforest: Why 10 Daily Tons of Ant Poop Keep This Rainforest Thriving.

Related reading: Manna from heaven – Refuse from an arboreal ant links aboveground and belowground processes in a lowland tropical forest.

Next: More poop videos and more ant videos, including The Sticky Feet of Ants & Cockroaches, excavating a giant ant hill, GPS-navigated rolling of the dung beetle, and why do leafcutter ants cut leaves and carry them away?

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