Ants In The Pasture

» June 13th, 2014

“When it comes to restoring grasslands, ecologists may have another way to evaluate their progress — ants.” So begins Science Daily‘s recently featured research on the ecological impact of ants. Maybe the organizers of Slow Meat 2014—dedicated as they all are to restoring grasslands—should have invited the great myrmecologist E. O. Wilson to discuss pasture restoration rather than Allan Savory, who wants to stack global deserts cheek to jowl with cattle in order to make the dry lands bloom. As the lead researcher involved in the ant study, Laura Winkler, said, the impact of ants–who aerate the oil, protect plants, and attract wildlife—is “like having dairy cattle.” And, if we are carnivorously intent on taking a pound or two of flesh from the pasture, ants don’t have to go to the slaughterhouse. Plus, they do better in a drought.  Read more about it here.

(Thanks to Mary Finelli for the tip.)




2 Responses to Ants In The Pasture

  1. John Maher says:

    While ants are an important part of a meadow, under von Uexkull’s Umwelt theory, they act as part of a system with other critters. The ants make variegated textural changes in matter which is then digested by bacteria in and out of the ant gut tract into simpler organic chemicals. The bacteria are the real heroes here although I greatly admire the ant. This does work better than human modified aurochs kept in a confined area by crazed happy meaters with barbeque sauce. Savory is essentially engaged in creating enabling myths masquerading as junk theory which allows humans to eat animals and save the planet too. As with most most myths, this one is not true. Loyal readers will know that I have previously noted some concerns with Wilson which I will not repeat here although JMCW is correct that he would have something to say about “repasturization”. Let us not forget how pastures came to be degraded in the first place.

  2. Elaine Livesey-Fassel says:

    Yes indeed! Thanks E.O.Wilson!. And talking of our degraded land, I also WORRY how those chemicals inserted in the soil in the fracking process are damaging the worms which we also should value as we do ants! As we continue to poison the air, land and our oceans with impunity, we damage faster than we could ever restore their health!

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