Cryptic Herbivores of the Rainforest Canopy

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Science  09 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5621, pp. 916-917
DOI: 10.1126/science.1085065

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Ants are generally considered to be predators or scavengers, not herbivores. As Hunt explains in his Perspective, it now seems that ants of the rainforest canopy are cryptic herbivores that feed indirectly on plant sap by milking the exudates of sap-sucker insects such as aphids ( Davidson et al.). These cryptic herbivores contribute to the burden of herbivory on rainforest plants and thus are an important part of the rainforest carbon cycle.