Morning meal

May 26, 2013

Tropical rain forests have been called the "jewels of the earth" due to the rich diversity found in their flora and fauna. La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica is a preserve where scientists conduct research on the rain forest's role in world ecology. Ants of many species enjoy nectar produced by Inga thibaudiana, a relatively small tree found in the La Selva area. This nectar does not come from flowers, but from nectaries, little bowl-shaped structures growing between leaflets (or little leaves). In this photograph, you see two ants drinking from the nectaries. The ant-tree relationship is mutually beneficial. In return for the food, the ants protect young leaves from leaf-eating insects, fungi, and encroaching vines.

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