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<v Speaker>Organisms often live close together in nature and they may function <v Speaker>as a group. There are many different kinds of groups and different kinds <v Speaker>of relationships within them. <v Speaker>One kind of group is the colony. <v Speaker>Perhaps it all began on the scale of a single drop of water. <v Speaker>Within this drop, maybe a variety of single celled organisms <v Speaker>that are by comparison, a primitive form of life. <v Speaker>The life functions of a single celled organism are taken care of by the <v Speaker>individual. <v Speaker>It seeks its own food. <v Speaker>It reproduces itself and accomplishes other necessary tasks <v Speaker>by itself for itself.
<v Speaker>This seems to be a fairly secure way of life. <v Speaker>The individual does not depend on another to accomplish the tasks necessary for <v Speaker>survival. <v Speaker>However, a single celled organism can never do more than what it alone can <v Speaker>accomplish. <v Speaker>A colony offers another approach. <v Speaker>On a primitive level, a small number of individuals joined together to form <v Speaker>a plant colony, a type of green algae. <v Speaker>These primitive plant colonies or groups of individuals little more than interconnected. <v Speaker>But each group does work as a unit. <v Speaker>And that in itself is the beginning of coordinated activity. <v Speaker>One of the larger plant colonies is the volvox, a hollow sphere
<v Speaker>of cells. <v Speaker>The volvox may be made up of thousands of individuals spinning about <v Speaker>as one unit. The individuals in the volvox colony are linked <v Speaker>together with strands of interconnected jelly-like material. <v Speaker>Their connection means coordination. <v Speaker>Each of the individual cells uses two whip-like tails to move <v Speaker>the group. With coordination, the volvox rolls in the same <v Speaker>direction. <v Speaker>It moves toward light and is guided by light sensitive cells in the front <v Speaker>part of the colony. <v Speaker>The volvox illustrates how an efficient colony reproduces. <v Speaker>Each of the dark objects in these volvox are daughter colonies, <v Speaker>offspring formed by only certain reproductive individuals in the colony.
<v Speaker>So the other individuals depend on a few to reproduce for the entire group. <v Speaker>And all of this may be happening within a drop of water. <v Speaker>Yet we normally see much larger organisms, ones that have social <v Speaker>behavior. <v Speaker>And this leads us from the water to a nearby flower. <v Speaker>Where we find a small social insect. <v Speaker>The honeybee is more than just one individual. <v Speaker>It is part of a colony. <v Speaker>It is a worker which has the job of gathering food for itself and others. <v Speaker>Constantly moving, the worker gathers nectar at the base of the flowers.
<v Speaker>Upon returning home, the honeybee leads us to the beehive <v Speaker>that may contain approximately 70000 bees in one colony. <v Speaker>This social activity is far more complex than microscopic colonies. <v Speaker>Here, the work is further divided up among individuals. <v Speaker>Even the worker bees may have different roles. <v Speaker>Some workers will remain with the honeycomb forming, cleaning and <v Speaker>tending the young. <v Speaker>Others may perform other functions, such as ventilating, bringing <v Speaker>a breeze through the hive. <v Speaker>This is done if the hive is too hot or smoky. <v Speaker>The bees fan with their wings. <v Speaker>If alarmed, these bees may make threatening gestures. <v Speaker>The pointed abdomens each hold a stinger that could do more than gesture.
<v Speaker>Other workers have a day to day job of guarding the entrance to the hive. <v Speaker>The guard bees usually touch still other workers who forage <v Speaker>in the fields. The guard bees immediately recognize members of the colony <v Speaker>and those that don't belong. <v Speaker>For those that belong, there may even be an exchange of food or <v Speaker>moisture. <v Speaker>For those that do not, they may find an unwelcome reception <v Speaker>and perhaps death. <v Speaker>The guards remove the dead insect.
<v Speaker>The hive activity centers around the queen, marked by a white dot, <v Speaker>the queen's ability to lay eggs enables the hive to prosper because <v Speaker>casualties are high and the bee lifespan is short. <v Speaker>The hive is often as healthy as it's queen is productive. <v Speaker>The Members of the hive may randomly crawl <v Speaker>over one another, but they turn to face the Queen as she moves through the colony. <v Speaker>The bees have an established society with specific jobs for specific individuals. <v Speaker>By depending on one another, each doing its tasks, the group <v Speaker>survives. <v Speaker>Another social insect is the ant.
<v Speaker>Similar in many respects to the bee colony, ants also have large numbers <v Speaker>of workers. The workers of the Carpenter ant colony clear tunnels <v Speaker>and remove debris in order to establish the nest. <v Speaker>They can carry many times their weight, seem to sense where to dump debris. <v Speaker>The type of path or tunnel to be created. <v Speaker>Sometimes they will take the debris to a certain point and drop it where others <v Speaker>will later move it further. <v Speaker>So the ants move as a unit, each doing its job in establishing <v Speaker>the nest. <v Speaker>When food or moisture is discovered, the individuals that find it <v Speaker>may not only lead others to the discovery, but they eat and drink not
<v Speaker>just for themselves. <v Speaker>Taking an ample supply, they will carry the food or moisture to others in the <v Speaker>colony. <v Speaker>Almost as if kissing, the insects share what has been found. <v Speaker>Once again, this demonstrates that each member of the colony is <v Speaker>more than an individual. <v Speaker>It is an integral part of a group, the concern <v Speaker>for the entire group is also seen when a member of another ant colony enters <v Speaker>the nest. It is on its way into hostile surroundings. <v Speaker>The ants immediately sense the invader as an alarm substance is passed almost <v Speaker>instantly through the colony. <v Speaker>The fighting is usually left to the soldier ants who are much larger than workers.
<v Speaker>The soldiers have large, strong jaws. <v Speaker>Their job is to defend the colony. <v Speaker>If the invader does not leave quickly, the fight will be to the death. <v Speaker>The soldiers and possibly others attack the invader with open jaws, <v Speaker>they engage in combat. <v Speaker>If the invader is strong enough to challenge a weaker colony, the largest and strongest <v Speaker>individual may join in. This individual has wings and is <v Speaker>the queen. Normally, she might not be needed to defend her colony, <v Speaker>but the invader is not quickly killed and she brings her enormous jaws <v Speaker>into combat. This endangers the entire colony because as with the <v Speaker>bees, the health of the queen is essential to the well-being of the entire colony. <v Speaker>But she cautiously engages in combat.
<v Speaker>The toll is heavy for all. <v Speaker>The mutilated and the dead. <v Speaker>The nest soon returns to normal. <v Speaker>The ants return to regular duties. <v Speaker>The invader is left unable to move and slowly die. <v Speaker>Once the invader is dead, the queen will resume her normal activities. <v Speaker>This may include inspection of the nest. <v Speaker>As she looks the nest over, she may detect the chemical trails left by <v Speaker>her colony in the building of the nest.
<v Speaker>She may touch individuals and perhaps communicate with them chemically. <v Speaker>Ants seem to have a language made up of odor. <v Speaker>The queen will eventually settle down and move to her normal sheltered chamber <v Speaker>where she will rest prior to her important task of laying eggs. <v Speaker>During this time, other ants may attend her. <v Speaker>Eventually, egg-laying continues. <v Speaker>The young ants may be moved about by certain individuals. <v Speaker>The colony continues. <v Speaker>So the ultimate colony is a group of individuals that have specific <v Speaker>individual jobs, but function as one
<v Speaker>in the community of living things.
Community of Living Things
Producing Organization
WHRO (Television station : Norfolk, Va.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
WHRO (Norfolk, Virginia)
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Episode Description
"The program 'Colonies' begins with a flock of ducks that run through a puddle of water, splashing nearby plants. The camera closes on a drop of water and ultimately moves within the drop to observe the microscopic community. From here, life as a single celled organism is explored, with an introduction to a primitive colonial existence. Several microscopic plant colonies are examined, including the Volvox. "The program then moves to more complex relationships in larger social organisms, where the colony is not a group of physically attached organisms. Tasks are seen accomplished by separate individuals for the group as a whole. We move into a bee hive, and then an ant nest to observe interdependence, how tasks are accomplished, and how the group functions as one unit in order to survive. "Accompanying materials include a Teacher's Guide with pertinent pages noted on this specific program, a description of special production requirements for this special program, and a synopsis of the evaluation of the COMMUNITY OF LIVING THINGS pilot programs, which show audience acceptance. Note in the preface of the Teacher's Guide that this program is part of the module on Interrelationships, with the central theme that 'organisms do not live in isolation, and a variety of relationships exist, serving a variety of purposes necessary for specific survival."--1981 Peabody Awards entry form.
Series Description
Community of Living Things was a Junior High Life-Science Series.
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Narrator: Lively, Lee
Producing Organization: WHRO (Television station : Norfolk, Va.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-2a81d1a2a15 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:15:00
Identifier: cpb-aacip-a6b9cfa75e5 (unknown)
Format: video/quicktime
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:00:14;22
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Chicago: “Community of Living Things; Colonies,” 1981-03-21, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WHRO, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 8, 2023,
MLA: “Community of Living Things; Colonies.” 1981-03-21. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WHRO, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 8, 2023. <>.
APA: Community of Living Things; Colonies. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WHRO, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from