From the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of The Ants comes this dynamic and visually spectacular portrait of Earth's ultimate superorganism. The Leafcutter Ants is the most detailed and authoritative description of any ant species ever produced. With a text suitable for both a lay and a scientific audience, the book provides an unforgettable tour of Earth's most evolved animal societies. Each colony of leafcutters contains as many as five million workers, all the daughters of a single queen that can live over a decade. A gigantic nest can stretch thirty feet across, rise five feet or more above the ground, and consist of hundreds of chambers that reach twenty-five feet below the ground surface. Indeed, the leafcutters have parlayed their instinctive civilization into a virtual domination of forest, grassland, and cropland—from Louisiana to Patagonia. Inspired by a section of the authors' acclaimed The Superorganism, this brilliantly illustrated work provides the ultimate explanation of what a social order with a half-billion years of animal evolution has achieved.
Plant-animal interactions have become a focus of ecological research, with the processes of herbivory being of special interest. This volume examines the interactions of leaf-cutting ants with the rainforest vegetation on Barro Colorado Islands in Central America. It is the synthesis of field research on multiple scales extending over a period of several years. This work can serve as a model study summarizing and extending knowledge about herbivorous insect-plant relationships, and the resulting consequences on structural and functional features of tropical ecosystems. The text is an invaluable reference for researchers and land managers working in the fields of plant-animal interactions, herbivory, community ecology and biodiversity.