The fruit is eaten by several bird species and by squirrels and chipmunks. Birds that eat berries, no doubt including golden current, include catbirds, thrashers, robins, and waxwings. Foxes, skunks, squirrels, and mice also eat a wide range of fruits and ultimately disperse the seeds away from the parent plant.
Many types of bees, flies, butterflies (notably the brown elfin), moths (notably hummingbird and clearwing moths), and wasps visit the flowers of Ribes species for nectar, pollen, or both. Spring-flowering shrubs are an important nectar source for insects that are active in early spring.
Gray comma butterfly caterpillars eat the leaves of gooseberries, and golden currant might also be a host plant for them. The early stage caterpillars feed on the undersides of the leaves, so it’s harder to see them.
Gooseberries and currants, now placed in their own family (the Grossulariaceae), used to be considered part of the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae). But botanists using molecular (DNA) evidence have determined that the woody plants that used to be in the saxifrage family deserve to be split away into other families.
Globally, there are about 150 species in genus Ribes, and they are often divided (in an oversimplified way) into “currants” (with jointed flower stalks) and “gooseberries” (with unjointed flower stalks). Numerous cultivated strains of currants and gooseberries have been developed by plant breeders. Favorite cultivated gooseberries usually are derived from the Old World species R. uva-crispa (sometimes called R. grossularia), which is often hybridized with the North American species R. hirtellum (often called the American or hairy-stem gooseberry, it is not native to Missouri).
Many species of gooseberries and currants have been the subject of an aggressive eradication campaign in parts of the country where white pine grows and is harvested for lumber. The shrubs are an alternate host of the white pine blister rust, which was unintentionally brought in from Europe around 1900. This fungus attacks and kills white pine, which is an important timber tree in eastern North America. Like many other rusts, it needs two hosts to complete its life cycle; its alternate host is various species of Ribes. Since Missouri is not in the range of white pine, other than as ornamental plantings, the blister rust has not been considered a threat here. Elsewhere, however, state laws may forbid the cultivation of gooseberries and currants.