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SCIENCE Ants with 'neighborly fences' DAVIS, CALIF. - Robert Frost had people in mind when he wrote a poem about good fences making good neighbors. A species of ant on the savannas of East Africa, however, is prone to the same logic. But for them it's more than just common courtesy: It's a matter of survival. These guys have some pretty tough neighbors.

The ant, crematogaster nigriceps, is one of four species that dwell inside bulb-like growths in the whistling thorn, a type of small acacia. Each tree is occupied by a single species. The problem for the weak C. nigriceps is that, if the branches of the tree it's living in are in contact with others occupied by a different type of ant, it will usually end up being evicted from its own tree. So the ant has adapted, according to a study by a research team at the University of California, Davis, and reported in the journal Nature. The master gardeners nip off the new growth on the acacia close to neighboring trees to maintain a protective distance: The branches of their home won't spread out and contact others.

ENVIRONMENT Antarctic ozone hole smaller WASHINGTON - The ozone hole over Antarctica - the region where Earth-shielding ozone typically gets depleted - is slightly smaller this year than last, NASA reported last week.

This year's southern ozone hole covered 9.8 million square miles on Sept. 15, according to preliminary satellite data. Last September, the hole spanned 10.5 million square miles - the largest hole ever recorded in the ozone over Antarctica.

TECHNOLOGY View live animals on the Web BEKESBOURNE, ENGLAND - A world-renowned British zoo launched a Web site that lets wildlife lovers around the world view endangered species live all day long. Howletts Wild Animal Park, near Canterbury, England, established the site ( Six color interactive "Webcams" zoom in on Siberian tigers, African elephants, and bongos, among others.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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