When ant-eating bears arrive, a native plant thrives

February 3, 2015 2:30 PM

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When ant-eating bears arrive, a native plant thrives

Biologist Josh Grinath seized a rare chance to study an ecosystem from top to tiny bottom when a black bear blundered through his Rocky Mountain meadow research plot, gobbling up ants and gnawing on equipment.

Grinath, a researcher at Florida State University, was already analyzing the codependent relationship between ants and treehoppers, which are tiny insects that poop sweet honeydew juice. The ants ward off predators that eat treehoppers, and in return, gorge on honeydew. The sap-sucking treehoppers c...

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