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In this activity, students examine the nature of the interaction between army ants and ant-following birds. Ant-following birds benefit from the relationship by staying just ahead of the ants and capturing prey animals that are disturbed by the ants. While early studies suggested that the birds' foraging might in turn benefit the ants, it is possible that the birds remove prey that the ants would capture. Using figures from a research paper, students determine whether the species interaction is mutualism, commensalism, or parasitism. Students design a hypothetical experiment to measure the effect of birds on army ant foraging success, interpret figures from a real experiment, and consider the consequences of the interaction on the ant colony and the forest community.
Associated files
Resource Group TIEE
Resource Group Link
Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords parasitism, competition, ant-following bird, army ant, antbird, data interpretation, experimental design, foraging, predation
Key taxa army ant, Eciton burchellii
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description Teachers can use this activity to teach about the types of interactions between species and the behavior of army ants and ant-following birds. The activity provides instructions for students and also guides teachers through student-active teaching methods. Experimental design, data interpretation, and critical thinking are emphasized. The context of the activity highlights the importance of testing a hypothesized relationship with a controlled experiment when possible.
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Mark Kuhlmann
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Biology Department, Harwick College
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • educationintern
Rights Author retains copyright
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 1999-11-30
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2010-02-16 01:47:18
Last Modified By Id
  • educationintern
Date Last Modified 2018-07-25 09:38:04
Release Flag Published

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