<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Monday, May 03, 2004

The Web of Life 

Want to have a little example of how interconnected the web of life is? Well, I just finished reading an article on ants and the plants that depend on them. It's a little trade-off that benefits the plants and the ants. How, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

According to the article I read today, the plants depend on the ants to disperse their seeds for them. The ants pick up the tough-coated seeds and carry them back to their colonies. In return for their efforts there is a food reward for them. The article refers to it as an "ant snack, called an elaiosome." After the ants have eaten the food, they dispose of the seed in the rich soil of the colony's "trash bin." Then, the seed germinates and grows.

Now, the important part of this is that the farther away from the mother plant the seeds are taken, the better the chance for the seedlings to survive to adulthood. So, the plant depends on the big, strong native ants to do this.

The problem is that the native ants are facing invasive species of smaller ants that can not and do not carry the seeds so far away. They simply eat the food reward and sometimes even leave the seed laying there by the mother plant, exposed on the ground, where it can be eaten by other insects or rodents. Therefore, the chance for survival is greatly diminished.

Also according to the article, the researchers:

examined 57 ant species from 24 sites across six continents and found that just a small increase in body length meant the ant was much better at carrying seeds far from the mother plant.

The reason that I bring this up here is that this is a perfect example of the delicate balance that the whole web of life depends upon for survival of all species, including humans. This is what is so upsetting about the tendencies of humans to try to "play God" with Mother Nature and try to bend Her to their will. This is arrogant and wrong.

The fact is that there are still so many things that we do not know, yet we don't hesitate to do whatever we think will benefit us or make life more enjoyable or convenient, without any thought to the consequences. I am constantly reading of horrifying things being done, like tampering with genetic modifications of plants and animals and things like that. If we don't wake up to how interconnected all of life is, it may end up being too late for us. I read a very good post on embracing this sort of interconnectedness written by one of my favorite bloggers yesterday that you may enjoy. She has more than one blog, too, so check her out if you have the time. This one is the first one I read and that I read the most. She makes you think. I like that.

People need to quit thinking in the short term and quit making problems for our children and grandchildren that they may not be able to "fix." We need to rediscover the sanctity of all life and regain the ability to live in harmony with nature instead of trying to control it. We need to nurture a deep respect for all living creatures and quit thinking that we are somehow better or more important than any other species. There is a reason and purpose for all species, even if we don't understand yet how it all fits together. We must continue to try to protect the many species that are being threatened with extinction by our actions. We simply must do whatever we can to protect the fragile balance in nature that sustains all life.

This apparently even includes the ants.
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