Habitat: Atta cephalotes (Leaf Cutter Ants) are located from South America to the southern part of North America. They specifically rang from the lower parts of Mexico to Ecuador with populations dispersed throughout the upper parts of South America, such as Brazil and Peru. (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013)

    A. cephalotes have been able to adapt and prosper in a large array of habitats. For example, according to AntWeb.org, the colonies that live in Brazil are completely disjointed from the ones that live in Central America (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013). Even though A. cephalotes are flexible when it comes to their habitat, they prefer plantations, clearings or on the edges of forests (Hölldobler & Wilson, 2011).These preferred habitats provide an abundance of plant material used for cultivating food (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013).  They also range in size for certain functions and environments, but more about that in the Form and Function page (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013).

    They are able live at most altitudes, but prefer lower levels because of abundance of food (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013). The preferred habitat of these ants are a semi-wet environment (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013). The plants that they use to make food reside in these conditions (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013).

    Because leaf cutter ants prefer clearings or disturbed land, they tend to thrive when they are near human plantations (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013). These ants are able to bring the leaves back to the nest and use them. Leaf cutter ants can wreak havoc on plantations, depending on the crop (AntWeb, Barry Bolton, 2013).

    Atta cephalotes have been able to survive so well because they have an endless supply of food wherever they go. This is because they grow their own food on something that is endless within a forest; Leaves (Frank & Sudd, 1987). These ants cut up leaves, bring them back to their nest, and grow food on them. (Frank & Sudd, 1987).

    The Leaf Cutter ant lives among many other animals, although they do not have “normal” mutualistic relationships with any. The only relationships that ants have with other organisms is to be eaten or, in the case of the fungi, to be eaten (Hölldobler & Wilson, 2011). Although ants eat the fungi, they give it a place to grow and feed.  A good case of a “normal” relationship is with certain Army Ants (Nomamyrmex esenbecki) (Swartz, 1998). Other than that, they are just there.

    The nests of most Atta genus use both thermal convection and ventilation to exchange gases that are let off by the ants and Fungi within the chambers (Hölldobler & Wilson, 2011). A. cephalotes live on the edges of clearings. The nest is built to harness these winds strong clearing winds and ventilate it, thus clearing the gases let off.  (Hölldobler & Wilson, 2011). Because of these high winds A. cephalotes do not rely on thermal convection as much as the Atta that live within a forest (Hölldobler & Wilson, 2011).



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