Showing posts from March, 2020

An Ant-Loving Orchid

Myrmecophila is an orchid genus found in both Central and South America and the Caribbean. Species form large to huge clusters, often in exposed positions in tropical deciduous forests, scrub, and mangrove swamps. Their flowers are showy and ants are attracted to their flower nectar. Inevitably, ants also colonize the plants, accessing shelter via holes in the bases of the elongated, hollow pseudobulbs.
Myrmecophila live in nutrient-sparse environments, on the trunks of thin-canopied trees, shrubs, and rocks in areas with a distinct dry season, or in harsh conditions near the sea. Not much leaf litter washes down on an orchid growing out in full sun. To thrive, the species must be thrifty or find some other way of obtaining food. Interestingly, organic material stored or excreted by ants can pack the interior cavities of the plants. The plants likely obtain both protection and nutritional benefit by accommodating their insect tenants.

The Fish and the Trees

Mountain Mullet, Agonostomus monticola, is a moderately small mullet species that is found in the Caribbean Basin, Central and northern South America, and the Southeastern U.S. Individuals spend their adult lives in freshwater, where they spawn. It’s thought that newly-hatched larvae are carried out sea, but soon return as juveniles.
The young Mullet frequently swim to the headwaters of rivers and streams. Mountain Mullet prefer freshwater habitats that are free-flowing, without channelization, dams, or other alterations. They are found where water is clear, typically with trees growing along the banks to provide some shady canopy. Although the species is fairly common in the more tropical parts of its range, it seems sensitive to habitat conditions. In South Florida, land of slow-moving swamp waters, all natural coastal rivers, streams, and springs either have sustained profound flow and water-quality changes or have been completely eliminated.  Reported in the early 1980s at Pine…