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Sample records for interacting ant societies

  1. Chemically armed mercenary ants protect fungus-farming societies.

    PubMed

    Adams, Rachelle M M; Liberti, Joanito; Illum, Anders A; Jones, Tappey H; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2013-09-24

    The ants are extraordinary in having evolved many lineages that exploit closely related ant societies as social parasites, but social parasitism by distantly related ants is rare. Here we document the interaction dynamics among a Sericomyrmex fungus-growing ant host, a permanently associated parasitic guest ant of the genus Megalomyrmex, and a raiding agro-predator of the genus Gnamptogenys. We show experimentally that the guest ants protect their host colonies against agro-predator raids using alkaloid venom that is much more potent than the biting defenses of the host ants. Relatively few guest ants are sufficient to kill raiders that invariably exterminate host nests without a cohabiting guest ant colony. We also show that the odor of guest ants discourages raider scouts from recruiting nestmates to host colonies. Our results imply that Sericomyrmex fungus-growers obtain a net benefit from their costly guest ants behaving as a functional soldier caste to meet lethal threats from agro-predator raiders. The fundamentally different life histories of the agro-predators and guest ants appear to facilitate their coexistence in a negative frequency-dependent manner. Because a guest ant colony is committed for life to a single host colony, the guests would harm their own interests by not defending the host that they continue to exploit. This conditional mutualism is analogous to chronic sickle cell anemia enhancing the resistance to malaria and to episodes in human history when mercenary city defenders offered either net benefits or imposed net costs, depending on the level of threat from invading armies.

  2. Polygyny and polyandry in small ant societies.

    PubMed

    Kellner, K; Trindl, A; Heinze, J; D'Ettorre, P

    2007-06-01

    Social insects, ants in particular, show considerable variation in queen number and mating frequency resulting in a wide range of social structures. The dynamics of reproductive conflicts in insect societies are directly connected to the colony kin structure, thus, the study of relatedness patterns is essential in order to understand the evolutionary resolution of these conflicts. We studied colony kin structure and mating frequencies in two closely related Neotropical ant species Pachycondyla inversa and Pachycondyla villosa. These represent interesting model systems because queens found new colonies cooperatively but, unlike many other ant species, they may still co-exist when the colony becomes mature (primary polygyny). By using five specific and highly variable microsatellite markers, we show that in both species queens usually mate with two or more males and that cofounding queens are always unrelated. Polygynous and polyandrous colonies are characterized by a high genetic diversity, with a mean relatedness coefficient among worker nestmates of 0.27 (+/- 0.03 SE) for P. inversa and 0.31 (+/- 0.05 SE) for P. villosa. However, relatedness among workers of the same matriline is high (0.60 +/- 0.03 in P. inversa, 0.62 +/- 0.08 in P. villosa) since males that mated with the same queen are on average closely related. Hence, we have found a new taxon in social Hymenoptera with high queen-mating frequencies and with intriguing mating and dispersal patterns of the sexuals. PMID:17561897

  3. Ecological consequences of traffic organisation in ant societies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Burd, Martin

    2006-12-01

    Many species of ants engage in social foraging in which traffic develops over pathways defined by pheromones or physical roads cleared through debris. Worker ants from the same colony have a common underlying evolutionary interest in their collective performance. Thus, ant traffic makes an interesting comparison to other kinds of cellular or organismal traffic composed of elements with varying degrees of shared or disparate goals. Recent studies have revealed how small-scale interactions among ants amplify to create large-scale traffic structure, such as segregation of counterflows. However, much less is known about the ecological costs and benefits of different kinds of traffic organization. The common assumption that maximum traffic flux provides maximum ecological benefit needs closer scrutiny. Ant traffic provides a potentially useful model system for experimental study of crowd panics, and for assessing the role of transport networks in creating scaling relationships between the size and activity rates of the entities they serve.

  4. Long-Term Disease Dynamics for a Specialized Parasite of Ant Societies: A Field Study

    PubMed Central

    Loreto, Raquel G.; Elliot, Simon L.; Freitas, Mayara L. R.; Pereira, Thairine M.; Hughes, David P.

    2014-01-01

    Many studies have investigated how social insects behave when a parasite is introduced into their colonies. These studies have been conducted in the laboratory, and we still have a limited understanding of the dynamics of ant-parasite interactions under natural conditions. Here we consider a specialized parasite of ant societies (Ophiocordyceps camponoti-rufipedis infecting Camponotus rufipes) within a rainforest. We first established that the parasite is unable to develop to transmission stage when introduced within the host nest. Secondly, we surveyed all colonies in the studied area and recorded 100% prevalence at the colony level (all colonies were infected). Finally, we conducted a long-term detailed census of parasite pressure, by mapping the position of infected dead ants and foraging trails (future hosts) in the immediate vicinity of the colonies over 20 months. We report new dead infected ants for all the months we conducted the census – at an average of 14.5 cadavers/month/colony. Based on the low infection rate, the absence of colony collapse or complete recovery of the colonies, we suggest that this parasite represents a chronic infection in the ant societies. We also proposed a “terminal host model of transmission” that links the age-related polyethism to the persistence of a parasitic infection. PMID:25133749

  5. Long-term disease dynamics for a specialized parasite of ant societies: a field study.

    PubMed

    Loreto, Raquel G; Elliot, Simon L; Freitas, Mayara L R; Pereira, Thairine M; Hughes, David P

    2014-01-01

    Many studies have investigated how social insects behave when a parasite is introduced into their colonies. These studies have been conducted in the laboratory, and we still have a limited understanding of the dynamics of ant-parasite interactions under natural conditions. Here we consider a specialized parasite of ant societies (Ophiocordyceps camponoti-rufipedis infecting Camponotus rufipes) within a rainforest. We first established that the parasite is unable to develop to transmission stage when introduced within the host nest. Secondly, we surveyed all colonies in the studied area and recorded 100% prevalence at the colony level (all colonies were infected). Finally, we conducted a long-term detailed census of parasite pressure, by mapping the position of infected dead ants and foraging trails (future hosts) in the immediate vicinity of the colonies over 20 months. We report new dead infected ants for all the months we conducted the census--at an average of 14.5 cadavers/month/colony. Based on the low infection rate, the absence of colony collapse or complete recovery of the colonies, we suggest that this parasite represents a chronic infection in the ant societies. We also proposed a "terminal host model of transmission" that links the age-related polyethism to the persistence of a parasitic infection.

  6. Opposing effects of allogrooming on disease transmission in ant societies.

    PubMed

    Theis, Fabian J; Ugelvig, Line V; Marr, Carsten; Cremer, Sylvia

    2015-05-26

    To prevent epidemics, insect societies have evolved collective disease defences that are highly effective at curing exposed individuals and limiting disease transmission to healthy group members. Grooming is an important sanitary behaviour--either performed towards oneself (self-grooming) or towards others (allogrooming)--to remove infectious agents from the body surface of exposed individuals, but at the risk of disease contraction by the groomer. We use garden ants (Lasius neglectus) and the fungal pathogen Metarhizium as a model system to study how pathogen presence affects self-grooming and allogrooming between exposed and healthy individuals. We develop an epidemiological SIS model to explore how experimentally observed grooming patterns affect disease spread within the colony, thereby providing a direct link between the expression and direction of sanitary behaviours, and their effects on colony-level epidemiology. We find that fungus-exposed ants increase self-grooming, while simultaneously decreasing allogrooming. This behavioural modulation seems universally adaptive and is predicted to contain disease spread in a great variety of host-pathogen systems. In contrast, allogrooming directed towards pathogen-exposed individuals might both increase and decrease disease risk. Our model reveals that the effect of allogrooming depends on the balance between pathogen infectiousness and efficiency of social host defences, which are likely to vary across host-pathogen systems.

  7. Opposing effects of allogrooming on disease transmission in ant societies

    PubMed Central

    Theis, Fabian J.; Ugelvig, Line V.; Marr, Carsten; Cremer, Sylvia

    2015-01-01

    To prevent epidemics, insect societies have evolved collective disease defences that are highly effective at curing exposed individuals and limiting disease transmission to healthy group members. Grooming is an important sanitary behaviour—either performed towards oneself (self-grooming) or towards others (allogrooming)—to remove infectious agents from the body surface of exposed individuals, but at the risk of disease contraction by the groomer. We use garden ants (Lasius neglectus) and the fungal pathogen Metarhizium as a model system to study how pathogen presence affects self-grooming and allogrooming between exposed and healthy individuals. We develop an epidemiological SIS model to explore how experimentally observed grooming patterns affect disease spread within the colony, thereby providing a direct link between the expression and direction of sanitary behaviours, and their effects on colony-level epidemiology. We find that fungus-exposed ants increase self-grooming, while simultaneously decreasing allogrooming. This behavioural modulation seems universally adaptive and is predicted to contain disease spread in a great variety of host–pathogen systems. In contrast, allogrooming directed towards pathogen-exposed individuals might both increase and decrease disease risk. Our model reveals that the effect of allogrooming depends on the balance between pathogen infectiousness and efficiency of social host defences, which are likely to vary across host–pathogen systems. PMID:25870394

  8. Acquisition of chemical recognition cues facilitates integration into ant societies

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Social insects maintain the integrity of their societies by discriminating between colony members and foreigners through cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) signatures. Nevertheless, parasites frequently get access to social resources, for example through mimicry of host CHCs among other mechanisms. The origin of mimetic compounds, however, remains unknown in the majority of studies (biosynthesis vs. acquisition). Additionally, direct evidence is scarce that chemical mimicry is indeed beneficial to the parasites (e.g., by improving social acceptance). Results In the present study we demonstrated that the kleptoparasitic silverfish Malayatelura ponerophila most likely acquires CHCs directly from its host ant Leptogenys distinguenda by evaluating the transfer of a stable-isotope label from the cuticle of workers to the silverfish. In a second experiment, we prevented CHC pilfering by separating silverfish from their host for six or nine days. Chemical host resemblance as well as aggressive rejection behaviour by host ants was then quantified for unmanipulated and previously separated individuals. Separated individuals showed reduced chemical host resemblance and they received significantly more aggressive rejection behaviour than unmanipulated individuals. Conclusion Our study clarifies the mechanism of chemical mimicry in a social insect parasite in great detail. It shows empirically for the first time that social insect parasites are able to acquire CHCs from their host. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the accuracy of chemical mimicry can be crucial for social insect parasites by enhancing social acceptance and, thus, allowing successful exploitation. We discuss the results in the light of coevolutionary arms races between parasites and hosts. PMID:22133503

  9. Opposing effects of allogrooming on disease transmission in ant societies.

    PubMed

    Theis, Fabian J; Ugelvig, Line V; Marr, Carsten; Cremer, Sylvia

    2015-05-26

    To prevent epidemics, insect societies have evolved collective disease defences that are highly effective at curing exposed individuals and limiting disease transmission to healthy group members. Grooming is an important sanitary behaviour--either performed towards oneself (self-grooming) or towards others (allogrooming)--to remove infectious agents from the body surface of exposed individuals, but at the risk of disease contraction by the groomer. We use garden ants (Lasius neglectus) and the fungal pathogen Metarhizium as a model system to study how pathogen presence affects self-grooming and allogrooming between exposed and healthy individuals. We develop an epidemiological SIS model to explore how experimentally observed grooming patterns affect disease spread within the colony, thereby providing a direct link between the expression and direction of sanitary behaviours, and their effects on colony-level epidemiology. We find that fungus-exposed ants increase self-grooming, while simultaneously decreasing allogrooming. This behavioural modulation seems universally adaptive and is predicted to contain disease spread in a great variety of host-pathogen systems. In contrast, allogrooming directed towards pathogen-exposed individuals might both increase and decrease disease risk. Our model reveals that the effect of allogrooming depends on the balance between pathogen infectiousness and efficiency of social host defences, which are likely to vary across host-pathogen systems. PMID:25870394

  10. The chemistry of social regulation: multicomponent signals in ant societies.

    PubMed

    Hölldobler, B

    1995-01-01

    Chemical signals mediating communication in ant societies are usually complex mixtures of substances with considerable variation in molecular composition and in relative proportions of components. Such multicomponent signals can be produced in single exocrine glands, but they can also be composed with secretions from several glands. This variation is often functional, identifying groups or specific actions on a variety of organizational levels. Chemical signals can be further combined with cues from other sensory modalities, such as vibrational or tactile stimuli. These kinds of accessory signals usually serve in modulatory communication, lowering the response threshold in the recipient for the actual releasing stimulus. Comparative studies suggest that modulatory signals evolved through ritualization from actions originally not related to the same behavioral context, and modulatory signals may further evolve to become independent releasing signals.

  11. Diverse societies are more productive: a lesson from ants

    PubMed Central

    Modlmeier, Andreas P.; Liebmann, Julia E.; Foitzik, Susanne

    2012-01-01

    The fitness consequences of animal personalities (also known as behavioural syndromes) have recently been studied in several solitary species. However, the adaptive significance of collective personalities in social insects and especially of behavioural variation among group members remains largely unexplored. Although intracolonial behavioural variation is an important component of division of labour, and as such a key feature for the success of societies, empirical links between behavioural variation and fitness are scarce. We investigated aggression, exploration and brood care behaviour in Temnothorax longispinosus ant colonies. We focused on two distinct aspects: intercolonial variability and its consistency across time and contexts, and intracolonial variability and its influence on productivity. Aggressiveness was consistent over four to five months with a new generation of workers emerging in between trial series. Other behaviours were not consistent over time. Exploration of novel environments responded to the sequence of assays: colonies were faster in discovering when workers previously encountered opponents in aggression experiments. Suites of correlated behaviours (e.g. aggression–exploration syndrome) present in the first series did not persist over time. Finally, colonies with more intracolonial behavioural variation in brood care and exploration of novel objects were more productive under standardized conditions than colonies with less variation. PMID:22279166

  12. Ant interactions with soil organisms and associated semiochemicals.

    PubMed

    Vander Meer, Robert

    2012-06-01

    This review focuses on the semiochemical interactions between ants and their soil environment. Ants occupy virtually every ecological niche and have evolved mechanisms to not just cope with, but also manipulate soil organisms. The metapleural gland, specific to ants was thought to be the major source of semiochemical antimicrobial compounds targeting general or specific deleterious microbes. The extremely diverse variety of semiochemicals and their sources with antimicrobial activity or potential activity is highlighted. The leaf-cutting ants and fire ant provide the most researched species, in part because they cause significant economic damage. The leaf-cutting ant is particularly interesting because researchers have uncovered unexpected interactions between leaf-cutting ant fungal farm, parasitic fungi, bacteria, yeasts, and ant defensive semiochemicals. These complex relationships highlight the multidimensional aspects of ants and the soil environment in which they live. PMID:22653568

  13. Warring arthropod societies: Social spider colonies can delay annihilation by predatory ants via reduced apparency and increased group size.

    PubMed

    Keiser, Carl N; Wright, Colin M; Pruitt, Jonathan N

    2015-10-01

    Sociality provides individuals with benefits via collective foraging and anti-predator defense. One of the costs of living in large groups, however, is increased apparency to natural enemies. Here, we test how the individual-level and collective traits of spider societies can increase the risk of discovery and death by predatory ants. We transplanted colonies of the social spider Stegodyphus dumicola into a habitat dense with one of their top predators, the pugnacious ant Anoplolepis custodiens. With three different experiments, we test how colony-wide survivorship in a predator-dense habitat can be altered by colony apparency (i.e., the presence of a capture web), group size, and group composition (i.e., the proportion of bold and shy personality types present). We also test how spiders' social context (i.e., living solitarily vs. among conspecifics) modifies their behaviour toward ants in their capture web. Colonies with capture webs intact were discovered by predatory ants on average 25% faster than colonies with the capture web removed, and all discovered colonies eventually collapsed and succumbed to predation. However, the lag time from discovery by ants to colony collapse was greater for colonies containing more individuals. The composition of individual personality types in the group had no influence on survivorship. Spiders in a social group were more likely to approach ants caught in their web than were isolated spiders. Isolated spiders were more likely to attack a safe prey item (a moth) than they were to attack ants and were more likely to retreat from ants after contact than they were after contact with moths. Together, our data suggest that the physical structures produced by large animal societies can increase their apparency to natural enemies, though larger groups can facilitate a longer lag time between discovery and demise. Lastly, the interaction between spiders and predatory ants seems to depend on the social context in which spiders reside

  14. Warring arthropod societies: Social spider colonies can delay annihilation by predatory ants via reduced apparency and increased group size.

    PubMed

    Keiser, Carl N; Wright, Colin M; Pruitt, Jonathan N

    2015-10-01

    Sociality provides individuals with benefits via collective foraging and anti-predator defense. One of the costs of living in large groups, however, is increased apparency to natural enemies. Here, we test how the individual-level and collective traits of spider societies can increase the risk of discovery and death by predatory ants. We transplanted colonies of the social spider Stegodyphus dumicola into a habitat dense with one of their top predators, the pugnacious ant Anoplolepis custodiens. With three different experiments, we test how colony-wide survivorship in a predator-dense habitat can be altered by colony apparency (i.e., the presence of a capture web), group size, and group composition (i.e., the proportion of bold and shy personality types present). We also test how spiders' social context (i.e., living solitarily vs. among conspecifics) modifies their behaviour toward ants in their capture web. Colonies with capture webs intact were discovered by predatory ants on average 25% faster than colonies with the capture web removed, and all discovered colonies eventually collapsed and succumbed to predation. However, the lag time from discovery by ants to colony collapse was greater for colonies containing more individuals. The composition of individual personality types in the group had no influence on survivorship. Spiders in a social group were more likely to approach ants caught in their web than were isolated spiders. Isolated spiders were more likely to attack a safe prey item (a moth) than they were to attack ants and were more likely to retreat from ants after contact than they were after contact with moths. Together, our data suggest that the physical structures produced by large animal societies can increase their apparency to natural enemies, though larger groups can facilitate a longer lag time between discovery and demise. Lastly, the interaction between spiders and predatory ants seems to depend on the social context in which spiders reside.

  15. Ant aggression and evolutionary stability in plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualistic interactions.

    PubMed

    Oña, L; Lachmann, M

    2011-03-01

    Mutualistic partners derive a benefit from their interaction, but this benefit can come at a cost. This is the case for plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualistic associations. In exchange for protection from herbivores provided by the resident ants, plants supply various kinds of resources or nests to the ants. Most ant-myrmecophyte mutualisms are horizontally transmitted, and therefore, partners share an interest in growth but not in reproduction. This lack of alignment in fitness interests between plants and ants drives a conflict between them: ants can attack pollinators that cross-fertilize the host plants. Using a mathematical model, we define a threshold in ant aggressiveness determining pollinator survival or elimination on the host plant. In our model we observed that, all else being equal, facultative interactions result in pollinator extinction for lower levels of ant aggressiveness than obligatory interactions. We propose that the capacity to discriminate pollinators from herbivores should not often evolve in ants, and when it does it will be when the plants exhibit limited dispersal in an environment that is not seed saturated so that each seed produced can effectively generate a new offspring or if ants acquire an extra benefit from pollination (e.g. if ants eat fruit). We suggest specific mutualism examples where these hypotheses can be tested empirically.

  16. Disease Dynamics in a Specialized Parasite of Ant Societies

    PubMed Central

    Andersen, Sandra B.; Ferrari, Matthew; Evans, Harry C.; Elliot, Simon L.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.; Hughes, David P.

    2012-01-01

    Coevolution between ant colonies and their rare specialized parasites are intriguing, because lethal infections of workers may correspond to tolerable chronic diseases of colonies, but the parasite adaptations that allow stable coexistence with ants are virtually unknown. We explore the trade-offs experienced by Ophiocordyceps parasites manipulating ants into dying in nearby graveyards. We used field data from Brazil and Thailand to parameterize and fit a model for the growth rate of graveyards. We show that parasite pressure is much lower than the abundance of ant cadavers suggests and that hyperparasites often castrate Ophiocordyceps. However, once fruiting bodies become sexually mature they appear robust. Such parasite life-history traits are consistent with iteroparity– a reproductive strategy rarely considered in fungi. We discuss how tropical habitats with high biodiversity of hyperparasites and high spore mortality has likely been crucial for the evolution and maintenance of iteroparity in parasites with low dispersal potential. PMID:22567151

  17. Cascading trait-mediated interactions induced by ant pheromones.

    PubMed

    Hsieh, Hsun-Yi; Liere, Heidi; Soto, Estelí J; Perfecto, Ivette

    2012-09-01

    Trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMII) can be as important as density-mediated indirect interactions. Here, we provide evidence for a novel trait-mediated cascade (where one TMII affects another TMII) and demonstrate that the mechanism consists of a predator eavesdropping on chemical signaling. Ants protect scale insects from predation by adult coccinellid beetles - the first TMII. However, parasitic phorid flies reduce ant foraging activity by 50% - the second TMII, providing a window of opportunity for female beetles to oviposit in high-quality microsites. Beetle larvae are protected from ant predation and benefit from living in patches with high scale densities. We demonstrate that female beetles can detect pheromones released by the ant when attacked by phorids, and that only females, and especially gravid females, are attracted to the ant pheromone. As ants reduce their movement when under attack by phorids, we conclude that phorids facilitate beetle oviposition, thus producing the TMII cascade. PMID:23139877

  18. Cascading trait-mediated interactions induced by ant pheromones

    PubMed Central

    Hsieh, Hsun-Yi; Liere, Heidi; Soto, Estelí J; Perfecto, Ivette

    2012-01-01

    Trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMII) can be as important as density-mediated indirect interactions. Here, we provide evidence for a novel trait-mediated cascade (where one TMII affects another TMII) and demonstrate that the mechanism consists of a predator eavesdropping on chemical signaling. Ants protect scale insects from predation by adult coccinellid beetles – the first TMII. However, parasitic phorid flies reduce ant foraging activity by 50% – the second TMII, providing a window of opportunity for female beetles to oviposit in high-quality microsites. Beetle larvae are protected from ant predation and benefit from living in patches with high scale densities. We demonstrate that female beetles can detect pheromones released by the ant when attacked by phorids, and that only females, and especially gravid females, are attracted to the ant pheromone. As ants reduce their movement when under attack by phorids, we conclude that phorids facilitate beetle oviposition, thus producing the TMII cascade. PMID:23139877

  19. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants

    PubMed Central

    Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B.; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated. PMID:26539724

  20. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants.

    PubMed

    Pless, Evlyn; Queirolo, Jovel; Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated. PMID:26539724

  1. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants.

    PubMed

    Pless, Evlyn; Queirolo, Jovel; Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated.

  2. Arboreal Ant Colonies as ‘Hot-Points’ of Cryptic Diversity for Myrmecophiles: The Weaver Ant Camponotus sp. aff. textor and Its Interaction Network with Its Associates

    PubMed Central

    Pérez-Lachaud, Gabriela; Lachaud, Jean-Paul

    2014-01-01

    Introduction Systematic surveys of macrofaunal diversity within ant colonies are lacking, particularly for ants nesting in microhabitats that are difficult to sample. Species associated with ants are generally small and rarely collected organisms, which makes them more likely to be unnoticed. We assumed that this tendency is greater for arthropod communities in microhabitats with low accessibility, such as those found in the nests of arboreal ants that may constitute a source of cryptic biodiversity. Materials and Methods We investigated the invertebrate diversity associated with an undescribed, but already threatened, Neotropical Camponotus weaver ant. As most of the common sampling methods used in studies of ant diversity are not suited for evaluating myrmecophile diversity within ant nests, we evaluated the macrofauna within ant nests through exhaustive colony sampling of three nests and examination of more than 80,000 individuals. Results We identified invertebrates from three classes belonging to 18 taxa, some of which were new to science, and recorded the first instance of the co-occurrence of two brood parasitoid wasp families attacking the same ant host colony. This diversity of ant associates corresponded to a highly complex interaction network. Agonistic interactions prevailed, but the prevalence of myrmecophiles was remarkably low. Conclusions Our data support the hypothesis of the evolution of low virulence in a variety of symbionts associated with large insect societies. Because most myrmecophiles found in this work are rare, strictly specific, and exhibit highly specialized biology, the risk of extinction for these hitherto unknown invertebrates and their natural enemies is high. The cryptic, far unappreciated diversity within arboreal ant nests in areas at high risk of habitat loss qualifies these nests as ‘hot-points’ of biodiversity that urgently require special attention as a component of conservation and management programs. PMID:24941047

  3. Disease in the Society: Infectious Cadavers Result in Collapse of Ant Sub-Colonies

    PubMed Central

    Loreto, Raquel G.; Hughes, David P.

    2016-01-01

    Despite the growing number of experimental studies on mechanisms of social immunity in ant societies, little is known about how social behavior relates to disease progression within the nests of ants. In fact, when empirically studying disease in ant societies, it is common to remove dead ants from experiments to confirm infection by the studied parasite. This unfortunately does not allow disease to progress within the nest as it may be assumed would happen under natural conditions. Therefore, the approach taken so far has resulted in a limited knowledge of diseases dynamics within the nest environment. Here we introduced a single infectious cadaver killed by the fungus Beauveria bassiana into small nests of the ant Camponotus castaneus. We then observed the natural progression of the disease by not removing the corpses of the ants that died following the first entry of the disease. Because some behaviors such as social isolation of sick individuals or the removal of cadavers by nestmates are considered social immune functions and thus adaptations at the colony level that reduce disease spread, we also experimentally confined some sub-colonies to one or two chamber nests to prevent the expression of such behaviors. Based on 51 small nests and survival studies in 1,003 ants we found that a single introduced infectious cadaver was able to transmit within the nest, and social immunity did not prevent the collapse of the small sub-colonies here tested. This was true whether ants did or did not have the option to remove the infectious cadaver. Therefore, we found no evidence that the typically studied social immunity behaviors can reduce disease spread in the conditions here tested. PMID:27529548

  4. Disease in the Society: Infectious Cadavers Result in Collapse of Ant Sub-Colonies.

    PubMed

    Loreto, Raquel G; Hughes, David P

    2016-01-01

    Despite the growing number of experimental studies on mechanisms of social immunity in ant societies, little is known about how social behavior relates to disease progression within the nests of ants. In fact, when empirically studying disease in ant societies, it is common to remove dead ants from experiments to confirm infection by the studied parasite. This unfortunately does not allow disease to progress within the nest as it may be assumed would happen under natural conditions. Therefore, the approach taken so far has resulted in a limited knowledge of diseases dynamics within the nest environment. Here we introduced a single infectious cadaver killed by the fungus Beauveria bassiana into small nests of the ant Camponotus castaneus. We then observed the natural progression of the disease by not removing the corpses of the ants that died following the first entry of the disease. Because some behaviors such as social isolation of sick individuals or the removal of cadavers by nestmates are considered social immune functions and thus adaptations at the colony level that reduce disease spread, we also experimentally confined some sub-colonies to one or two chamber nests to prevent the expression of such behaviors. Based on 51 small nests and survival studies in 1,003 ants we found that a single introduced infectious cadaver was able to transmit within the nest, and social immunity did not prevent the collapse of the small sub-colonies here tested. This was true whether ants did or did not have the option to remove the infectious cadaver. Therefore, we found no evidence that the typically studied social immunity behaviors can reduce disease spread in the conditions here tested. PMID:27529548

  5. Disease in the Society: Infectious Cadavers Result in Collapse of Ant Sub-Colonies.

    PubMed

    Loreto, Raquel G; Hughes, David P

    2016-01-01

    Despite the growing number of experimental studies on mechanisms of social immunity in ant societies, little is known about how social behavior relates to disease progression within the nests of ants. In fact, when empirically studying disease in ant societies, it is common to remove dead ants from experiments to confirm infection by the studied parasite. This unfortunately does not allow disease to progress within the nest as it may be assumed would happen under natural conditions. Therefore, the approach taken so far has resulted in a limited knowledge of diseases dynamics within the nest environment. Here we introduced a single infectious cadaver killed by the fungus Beauveria bassiana into small nests of the ant Camponotus castaneus. We then observed the natural progression of the disease by not removing the corpses of the ants that died following the first entry of the disease. Because some behaviors such as social isolation of sick individuals or the removal of cadavers by nestmates are considered social immune functions and thus adaptations at the colony level that reduce disease spread, we also experimentally confined some sub-colonies to one or two chamber nests to prevent the expression of such behaviors. Based on 51 small nests and survival studies in 1,003 ants we found that a single introduced infectious cadaver was able to transmit within the nest, and social immunity did not prevent the collapse of the small sub-colonies here tested. This was true whether ants did or did not have the option to remove the infectious cadaver. Therefore, we found no evidence that the typically studied social immunity behaviors can reduce disease spread in the conditions here tested.

  6. Ant plant herbivore interactions in the neotropical cerrado savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Oliveira, Paulo S.; Freitas, André V. L.

    2004-12-01

    The Brazilian cerrado savanna covers nearly 2 million km2 and has a high incidence on foliage of various liquid food sources such as extrafloral nectar and insect exudates. These liquid rewards generate intense ant activity on cerrado foliage, making ant plant herbivore interactions especially prevalent in this biome. We present data on the distribution and abundance of extrafloral nectaries in the woody flora of cerrado communities and in the flora of other habitats worldwide, and stress the relevance of liquid food sources (including hemipteran honeydew) for the ant fauna. Consumption by ants of plant and insect exudates significantly affects the activity of the associated herbivores of cerrado plant species, with varying impacts on the reproductive output of the plants. Experiments with an ant plant butterfly system unequivocally demonstrate that the behavior of both immature and adult lepidopterans is closely related to the use of a risky host plant, where intensive visitation by ants can have a severe impact on caterpillar survival. We discuss recent evidence suggesting that the occurrence of liquid rewards on leaves plays a key role in mediating the foraging ecology of foliage-dwelling ants, and that facultative ant plant mutualisms are important in structuring the community of canopy arthropods. Ant-mediated effects on cerrado herbivore communities can be revealed by experiments performed on wide spatial scales, including many environmental factors such as soil fertility and vegetation structure. We also present some research questions that could be rewarding to investigate in this major neotropical savanna.

  7. The Effect of Diet and Opponent Size on Aggressive Interactions Involving Caribbean Crazy Ants (Nylanderia fulva)

    PubMed Central

    Horn, Katherine C.; Eubanks, Micky D.; Siemann, Evan

    2013-01-01

    Biotic interactions are often important in the establishment and spread of invasive species. In particular, competition between introduced and native species can strongly influence the distribution and spread of exotic species and in some cases competition among introduced species can be important. The Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva, was recently introduced to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and appears to be spreading inland. It has been hypothesized that competition with the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, may be an important factor in the spread of crazy ants. We investigated the potential of interspecific competition among these two introduced ants by measuring interspecific aggression between Caribbean crazy ant workers and workers of Solenopsis invicta. Specifically, we examined the effect of body size and diet on individual-level aggressive interactions among crazy ant workers and fire ants. We found that differences in diet did not alter interactions between crazy ant workers from different nests, but carbohydrate level did play an important role in antagonistic interactions with fire ants: crazy ants on low sugar diets were more aggressive and less likely to be killed in aggressive encounters with fire ants. We found that large fire ants engaged in fewer fights with crazy ants than small fire ants, but fire ant size affected neither fire ant nor crazy ant mortality. Overall, crazy ants experienced higher mortality than fire ants after aggressive encounters. Our findings suggest that fire ant workers might outcompete crazy ant workers on an individual level, providing some biotic resistance to crazy ant range expansion. However, this resistance may be overcome by crazy ants that have a restricted sugar intake, which may occur when crazy ants are excluded from resources by fire ants. PMID:23776702

  8. The effect of diet and opponent size on aggressive interactions involving caribbean crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva).

    PubMed

    Horn, Katherine C; Eubanks, Micky D; Siemann, Evan

    2013-01-01

    Biotic interactions are often important in the establishment and spread of invasive species. In particular, competition between introduced and native species can strongly influence the distribution and spread of exotic species and in some cases competition among introduced species can be important. The Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva, was recently introduced to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and appears to be spreading inland. It has been hypothesized that competition with the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, may be an important factor in the spread of crazy ants. We investigated the potential of interspecific competition among these two introduced ants by measuring interspecific aggression between Caribbean crazy ant workers and workers of Solenopsis invicta. Specifically, we examined the effect of body size and diet on individual-level aggressive interactions among crazy ant workers and fire ants. We found that differences in diet did not alter interactions between crazy ant workers from different nests, but carbohydrate level did play an important role in antagonistic interactions with fire ants: crazy ants on low sugar diets were more aggressive and less likely to be killed in aggressive encounters with fire ants. We found that large fire ants engaged in fewer fights with crazy ants than small fire ants, but fire ant size affected neither fire ant nor crazy ant mortality. Overall, crazy ants experienced higher mortality than fire ants after aggressive encounters. Our findings suggest that fire ant workers might outcompete crazy ant workers on an individual level, providing some biotic resistance to crazy ant range expansion. However, this resistance may be overcome by crazy ants that have a restricted sugar intake, which may occur when crazy ants are excluded from resources by fire ants. PMID:23776702

  9. The effect of diet and opponent size on aggressive interactions involving caribbean crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva).

    PubMed

    Horn, Katherine C; Eubanks, Micky D; Siemann, Evan

    2013-01-01

    Biotic interactions are often important in the establishment and spread of invasive species. In particular, competition between introduced and native species can strongly influence the distribution and spread of exotic species and in some cases competition among introduced species can be important. The Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva, was recently introduced to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and appears to be spreading inland. It has been hypothesized that competition with the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, may be an important factor in the spread of crazy ants. We investigated the potential of interspecific competition among these two introduced ants by measuring interspecific aggression between Caribbean crazy ant workers and workers of Solenopsis invicta. Specifically, we examined the effect of body size and diet on individual-level aggressive interactions among crazy ant workers and fire ants. We found that differences in diet did not alter interactions between crazy ant workers from different nests, but carbohydrate level did play an important role in antagonistic interactions with fire ants: crazy ants on low sugar diets were more aggressive and less likely to be killed in aggressive encounters with fire ants. We found that large fire ants engaged in fewer fights with crazy ants than small fire ants, but fire ant size affected neither fire ant nor crazy ant mortality. Overall, crazy ants experienced higher mortality than fire ants after aggressive encounters. Our findings suggest that fire ant workers might outcompete crazy ant workers on an individual level, providing some biotic resistance to crazy ant range expansion. However, this resistance may be overcome by crazy ants that have a restricted sugar intake, which may occur when crazy ants are excluded from resources by fire ants.

  10. Density-mediated, context-dependent consumer-resource interactions between ants and extrafloral nectar plants.

    PubMed

    Chamberlain, Scott A; Holland, J Nathaniel

    2008-05-01

    Interspecific interactions are often mediated by the interplay between resource supply and consumer density. The supply of a resource and a consumer's density response to it may in turn yield context-dependent use of other resources. Such consumer-resource interactions occur not only for predator-prey and competitive interactions, but for mutualistic ones as well. For example, consumer-resource interactions between ants and extrafloral nectar (EFN) plants are often mutualistic, as EFN resources attract and reward ants which protect plants from herbivory. Yet, ants also commonly exploit floral resources, leading to antagonistic consumer-resource interactions by disrupting pollination and plant reproduction. EFN resources associated with mutualistic ant-plant interactions may also mediate antagonistic ant-flower interactions through the aggregative density response of ants on plants, which could either exacerbate ant-flower interactions or alternatively satiate and distract ants from floral resources. In this study, we examined how EFN resources mediate the density response of ants on senita cacti in the Sonoran Desert and their context-dependent use of floral resources. Removal of EFN resources reduced the aggregative density of ants on plants, both on hourly and daily time scales. Yet, the increased aggregative ant density on plants with EFN resources decreased rather than increased ant use of floral resources, including contacts with and time spent in flowers. Behavioral assays showed no confounding effect of floral deterrents on ant-flower interactions. Thus, ant use of floral resources depends on the supply of EFN resources, which mediates the potential for both mutualistic and antagonistic interactions by increasing the aggregative density of ants protecting plants, while concurrently distracting ants from floral resources. Nevertheless, only certain years and populations of study showed an increase in plant reproduction through herbivore protection or ant

  11. Trait-mediated indirect interactions of ant shape on the attack of caterpillars and fruits.

    PubMed

    Dáttilo, Wesley; Aguirre, Armando; De la Torre, Pedro Luna; Kaminski, Lucas A; García-Chávez, Juan; Rico-Gray, Víctor

    2016-08-01

    Mainly owing to their high diversity and abundance, ants are formidable as predators and defenders of foliage. Consequently, ants can exclude both invertebrate and vertebrate activity on plants via direct and indirect interactions as already shown in many previous studies. Here we present empirical evidence that objects resembling ant shape on dummy caterpillars were able to repel visually oriented predators. Moreover, we also show that rubber ants on dummy fruits can repel potential fruit dispersers. Our results have direct implications on the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of interactions in ant-based systems, as ant presence could affect the fitness of its partners. In short, our study highlights the importance of visual cues in interspecific interactions and opens a new way to study the effects of ant presence to test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses.

  12. Trait-mediated indirect interactions of ant shape on the attack of caterpillars and fruits.

    PubMed

    Dáttilo, Wesley; Aguirre, Armando; De la Torre, Pedro Luna; Kaminski, Lucas A; García-Chávez, Juan; Rico-Gray, Víctor

    2016-08-01

    Mainly owing to their high diversity and abundance, ants are formidable as predators and defenders of foliage. Consequently, ants can exclude both invertebrate and vertebrate activity on plants via direct and indirect interactions as already shown in many previous studies. Here we present empirical evidence that objects resembling ant shape on dummy caterpillars were able to repel visually oriented predators. Moreover, we also show that rubber ants on dummy fruits can repel potential fruit dispersers. Our results have direct implications on the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of interactions in ant-based systems, as ant presence could affect the fitness of its partners. In short, our study highlights the importance of visual cues in interspecific interactions and opens a new way to study the effects of ant presence to test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. PMID:27484648

  13. Corruption of ant acoustical signals by mimetic social parasites: Maculinea butterflies achieve elevated status in host societies by mimicking the acoustics of queen ants.

    PubMed

    Thomas, Jeremy A; Schönrogge, Karsten; Bonelli, Simona; Barbero, Francesca; Balletto, Emilio

    2010-03-01

    Recent recordings of the stridulations of Myrmica ants revealed that their queens made distinctive sounds from their workers, although the acoustics of queens and workers, respectively, were the same in different species of Myrmica. Queen recordings induced enhanced protective behavior when played to workers in the one species tested. Larvae and pupae of the butterfly genus Maculinea inhabit Myrmica colonies as social parasites, and both stages generate sounds that mimic those of a Myrmica queen, inducing similar superior treatments from workers as their model. We discuss how initial penetration and acceptance as a colony member is achieved by Maculinea through mimicking the species-specific semio-chemicals of their hosts, and how acoustical mimicry is then employed to elevate the parasite's membership of that society towards the highest attainable level in their host's hierarchy. We postulate that, if acoustics is as well developed a means of communication in certain ants as these studies suggest, then others among an estimated 10,000 species of ant social parasite may supplement their well-known use of chemical and tactile mimicry to trick host ants with mimicry of host acoustical systems.

  14. Multitasking in a plant-ant interaction: how does Acacia myrtifolia manage both ants and pollinators?

    PubMed

    Martínez-Bauer, Angélica E; Martínez, Gerardo Cerón; Murphy, Daniel J; Burd, Martin

    2015-06-01

    Plant associations with protective ants are widespread among angiosperms, but carry the risk that ants will deter pollinators as well as herbivores. Such conflict, and adaptations to ameliorate or prevent the conflict, have been documented in African and neotropical acacias. Ant-acacia associations occur in Australia, but little is known of their ecology. Moreover, recent phylogenetic evidence indicates that Australian acacias are only distantly related to African and American acacias, providing an intercontinental natural experiment in the management of ant-pollinator conflict. We examined four populations of Acacia myrtifolia over a 400-km environmental gradient in southeastern Australia using ant and pollinator exclusion as well as direct observation of ants and pollinators to assess the potential for ant-pollinator conflict to affect seed set. Native bees were the only group of floral visitors whose visitation rates were a significant predictor of fruiting success, although beetles and wasps may play an important role as "insurance" pollinators. We found no increase in pollinator visitation or fruiting success following ant exclusion, even with large sample sizes and effective exclusion. Because ants are facultative visitors to A. myrtifolia plants, their presence may be insufficient to interfere greatly with floral visitors. It is also likely that the morphological location of extrafloral nectaries tends to draw ants away from reproductive parts, although we commonly observed ants on inflorescences, so the spatial separation is not strict. A. myrtifolia appears to maintain a generalized mutualism over a wide geographic range without the need for elaborate adaptations to resolve ant-pollinator conflict. PMID:25571873

  15. Multitasking in a plant-ant interaction: how does Acacia myrtifolia manage both ants and pollinators?

    PubMed

    Martínez-Bauer, Angélica E; Martínez, Gerardo Cerón; Murphy, Daniel J; Burd, Martin

    2015-06-01

    Plant associations with protective ants are widespread among angiosperms, but carry the risk that ants will deter pollinators as well as herbivores. Such conflict, and adaptations to ameliorate or prevent the conflict, have been documented in African and neotropical acacias. Ant-acacia associations occur in Australia, but little is known of their ecology. Moreover, recent phylogenetic evidence indicates that Australian acacias are only distantly related to African and American acacias, providing an intercontinental natural experiment in the management of ant-pollinator conflict. We examined four populations of Acacia myrtifolia over a 400-km environmental gradient in southeastern Australia using ant and pollinator exclusion as well as direct observation of ants and pollinators to assess the potential for ant-pollinator conflict to affect seed set. Native bees were the only group of floral visitors whose visitation rates were a significant predictor of fruiting success, although beetles and wasps may play an important role as "insurance" pollinators. We found no increase in pollinator visitation or fruiting success following ant exclusion, even with large sample sizes and effective exclusion. Because ants are facultative visitors to A. myrtifolia plants, their presence may be insufficient to interfere greatly with floral visitors. It is also likely that the morphological location of extrafloral nectaries tends to draw ants away from reproductive parts, although we commonly observed ants on inflorescences, so the spatial separation is not strict. A. myrtifolia appears to maintain a generalized mutualism over a wide geographic range without the need for elaborate adaptations to resolve ant-pollinator conflict.

  16. Social interactions influence dopamine and octopamine homeostasis in the brain of the ant Formica japonica.

    PubMed

    Wada-Katsumata, Ayako; Yamaoka, Ryohei; Aonuma, Hitoshi

    2011-05-15

    In ants, including Formica japonica, trophallaxis and grooming are typical social behaviors shared among nestmates. After depriving ants of either food or nestmates and then providing them with either food or nestmates, a behavioral change in type and frequency of social interactions was observed. We hypothesized that starvation and isolation affected levels of brain biogenic amines including dopamine (DA) and octopamine (OA) - neuromediators modifying various insect behaviors - and tested the relationship between brain biogenic amines and social behaviors of stressed ants. Ants starved for 7 days contained lower brain DA levels and they did not perform trophallaxis toward nestmates. Feeding starved ants sucrose solution re-established trophallaxis but not brain DA levels. The performance of trophallaxis induced recovery of brain DA content to the level of untreated ants. Ants that were isolated for 2 days displayed markedly increased OA levels, which following nestmate interactions, returned to levels similar to those of control (non-isolated) ants and ants isolated for 1 h. We conclude that: (1) starvation reduced brain DA level but had no significant effect on brain OA (trophallaxis recovered the brain DA levels), and (2) isolation increased brain OA level but had no effect on brain DA (trophallaxis and grooming events recovered the brain OA levels). We suggest that social interactions with nestmates influenced brain biogenic amine homeostasis in stressed F. japonica.

  17. Harvester ants use interactions to regulate forager activation and availability

    PubMed Central

    Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Bala, Ashwin; Merrell, Andrew; Queirolo, Jovel; Stumpe, Martin C.; Holmes, Susan; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2013-01-01

    Social groups balance flexibility and robustness in their collective response to environmental changes using feedback between behavioural processes that operate at different timescales. Here we examine how behavioural processes operating at two timescales regulate the foraging activity of colonies of the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, allowing them to balance their response to food availability and predation. Previous work showed that the rate at which foragers return to the nest with food influences the rate at which foragers leave the nest. To investigate how interactions inside the nest link the rates of returning and outgoing foragers, we observed outgoing foragers inside the nest in field colonies using a novel observation method. We found that the interaction rate experienced by outgoing foragers inside the nest corresponded to forager return rate, and that the interactions of outgoing foragers were spatially clustered. Activation of a forager occurred on the timescale of seconds: a forager left the nest 3–8 s after a substantial increase in interactions with returning foragers. The availability of outgoing foragers to become activated was adjusted on the timescale of minutes: when forager return was interrupted for more than 4–5 min, available foragers waiting near the nest entrance went deeper into the nest. Thus, forager activation and forager availability both increased with the rate at which foragers returned to the nest. This process was checked by negative feedback between forager activation and forager availability. Regulation of foraging activation on the timescale of seconds provides flexibility in response to fluctuations in food abundance, whereas regulation of forager availability on the timescale of minutes provides robustness in response to sustained disturbance such as predation. PMID:24031094

  18. Harvester ants use interactions to regulate forager activation and availability.

    PubMed

    Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Bala, Ashwin; Merrell, Andrew; Queirolo, Jovel; Stumpe, Martin C; Holmes, Susan; Gordon, Deborah M

    2013-07-01

    Social groups balance flexibility and robustness in their collective response to environmental changes using feedback between behavioural processes that operate at different timescales. Here we examine how behavioural processes operating at two timescales regulate the foraging activity of colonies of the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, allowing them to balance their response to food availability and predation. Previous work showed that the rate at which foragers return to the nest with food influences the rate at which foragers leave the nest. To investigate how interactions inside the nest link the rates of returning and outgoing foragers, we observed outgoing foragers inside the nest in field colonies using a novel observation method. We found that the interaction rate experienced by outgoing foragers inside the nest corresponded to forager return rate, and that the interactions of outgoing foragers were spatially clustered. Activation of a forager occurred on the timescale of seconds: a forager left the nest 3-8 s after a substantial increase in interactions with returning foragers. The availability of outgoing foragers to become activated was adjusted on the timescale of minutes: when forager return was interrupted for more than 4-5 min, available foragers waiting near the nest entrance went deeper into the nest. Thus, forager activation and forager availability both increased with the rate at which foragers returned to the nest. This process was checked by negative feedback between forager activation and forager availability. Regulation of foraging activation on the timescale of seconds provides flexibility in response to fluctuations in food abundance, whereas regulation of forager availability on the timescale of minutes provides robustness in response to sustained disturbance such as predation.

  19. The effect of individual variation on the structure and function of interaction networks in harvester ants

    PubMed Central

    Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Wollman, Roy; Guetz, Adam; Holmes, Susan; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2011-01-01

    Social insects exhibit coordinated behaviour without central control. Local interactions among individuals determine their behaviour and regulate the activity of the colony. Harvester ants are recruited for outside work, using networks of brief antennal contacts, in the nest chamber closest to the nest exit: the entrance chamber. Here, we combine empirical observations, image analysis and computer simulations to investigate the structure and function of the interaction network in the entrance chamber. Ant interactions were distributed heterogeneously in the chamber, with an interaction hot-spot at the entrance leading further into the nest. The distribution of the total interactions per ant followed a right-skewed distribution, indicating the presence of highly connected individuals. Numbers of ant encounters observed positively correlated with the duration of observation. Individuals varied in interaction frequency, even after accounting for the duration of observation. An ant's interaction frequency was explained by its path shape and location within the entrance chamber. Computer simulations demonstrate that variation among individuals in connectivity accelerates information flow to an extent equivalent to an increase in the total number of interactions. Individual variation in connectivity, arising from variation among ants in location and spatial behaviour, creates interaction centres, which may expedite information flow. PMID:21490001

  20. Interaction complexity matters: disentangling services and disservices of ant communities driving yield in tropical agroecosystems.

    PubMed

    Wielgoss, Arno; Tscharntke, Teja; Rumede, Alfianus; Fiala, Brigitte; Seidel, Hannes; Shahabuddin, Saleh; Clough, Yann

    2014-01-22

    Owing to complex direct and indirect effects, impacts of higher trophic levels on plants is poorly understood. In tropical agroecosystems, ants interact with crop mutualists and antagonists, but little is known about how this integrates into the final ecosystem service, crop yield. We combined ant exclusion and introduction of invasive and native-dominant species in cacao agroecosystems to test whether (i) ant exclusion reduces yield, (ii) dominant species maximize certain intermediate ecosystem services (e.g. control of specific pests) rather than yield, which depends on several, cascading intermediate services and (iii) even, species-rich ant communities result in highest yields. Ants provided services, including reduced leaf herbivory and fruit pest damage and indirect pollination facilitation, but also disservices, such as increased mealybug density, phytopathogen dissemination and indirect pest damage enhancement. Yields were highest with unmanipulated, species-rich, even communities, whereas ant exclusion decreased yield by 27%. Introduction of an invasive-dominant ant decreased species density and evenness and resulted in 34% lower yields, whereas introduction of a non-invasive-dominant species resulted in similar species density and yields as in the unmanipulated control. Species traits and ant community structure affect services and disservices for agriculture in surprisingly complex ways, with species-rich and even communities promoting highest yield.

  1. Interaction complexity matters: disentangling services and disservices of ant communities driving yield in tropical agroecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Wielgoss, Arno; Tscharntke, Teja; Rumede, Alfianus; Fiala, Brigitte; Seidel, Hannes; Shahabuddin, Saleh; Clough, Yann

    2014-01-01

    Owing to complex direct and indirect effects, impacts of higher trophic levels on plants is poorly understood. In tropical agroecosystems, ants interact with crop mutualists and antagonists, but little is known about how this integrates into the final ecosystem service, crop yield. We combined ant exclusion and introduction of invasive and native-dominant species in cacao agroecosystems to test whether (i) ant exclusion reduces yield, (ii) dominant species maximize certain intermediate ecosystem services (e.g. control of specific pests) rather than yield, which depends on several, cascading intermediate services and (iii) even, species-rich ant communities result in highest yields. Ants provided services, including reduced leaf herbivory and fruit pest damage and indirect pollination facilitation, but also disservices, such as increased mealybug density, phytopathogen dissemination and indirect pest damage enhancement. Yields were highest with unmanipulated, species-rich, even communities, whereas ant exclusion decreased yield by 27%. Introduction of an invasive-dominant ant decreased species density and evenness and resulted in 34% lower yields, whereas introduction of a non-invasive-dominant species resulted in similar species density and yields as in the unmanipulated control. Species traits and ant community structure affect services and disservices for agriculture in surprisingly complex ways, with species-rich and even communities promoting highest yield. PMID:24307667

  2. Composition of extrafloral nectar influences interactions between the myrmecophyte Humboldtia brunonis and its ant associates.

    PubMed

    Shenoy, Megha; Radhika, Venkatesan; Satish, Suma; Borges, Renee M

    2012-01-01

    Ant-plant interactions often are mediated by extrafloral nectar (EFN) composition that may influence plant visitation by ants. Over a 300 km range in the Indian Western Ghats, we investigated the correlation between the EFN composition of the myrmecophytic ant-plant Humboldtia brunonis (Fabaceae) and the number and species of ants visiting EFN. EFN composition varied among H. brunonis populations and between plant organs (floral bud vs. young leaf EFN). In general, EFN was rich in sugars with small quantities of amino acids, especially essential amino acids, and had moderate invertase activity. In experiments at the study sites with sugar and amino acid solutions and with leaf or floral bud EFN mimics, dominant EFN-feeding ants differentiated between solutions as well as between mimics. The castration parasite Crematogaster dohrni (northern study site) was the least selective and did not exhibit any clear feeding preferences, while the largely trophobiont-tending non-protective Myrmicaria brunnea (middle study site) preferred higher sucrose concentrations and certain essential/non-essential amino acid mixtures. The mutualistic Technomyrmex albipes (southern study site) preferred sucrose over glucose or fructose solutions and consumed the leaf EFN mimic to a greater extent than the floral bud EFN mimic. This young leaf EFN mimic had low sugar concentrations, the lowest viscosity and sugar:amino acid ratio, was rich in essential amino acids, and appeared ideally suited to the digestive physiology of T. albipes. This preference for young leaf EFN may explain the greater protection afforded to young leaves than to floral buds by T. albipes, and may also help to resolve ant-pollinator conflicts. The differential response of dominant ants to sugar, amino acids, or solution viscosity suggests that plants can fine-tune their interactions with local ants via EFN composition. Thus, EFN can mediate local partner-choice mechanisms in ant-plant interactions.

  3. Environmental heterogeneity and interspecific interactions influence nest occupancy by key seed-dispersing ants.

    PubMed

    Warren, Robert J; Giladi, Itamar; Bradford, Mark A

    2012-06-01

    The complex interplay between species along environmental gradients ultimately shapes their distributions and additional community interactions. Ant-mediated seed dispersal fails in the wettest habitat of deciduous forest in eastern North America, and we examine whether this pattern corresponds with colony distributions for seed-dispersing ants and associated heterogeneity in abiotic and biotic variables. Specifically, we used spatial variation in soil moisture, temperature and diffuse light along natural habitat gradients and experimentally manipulated soil moisture gradients to examine ant habitat selection. We also examined niche segregation between effective (Aphaenogaster spp.) and ineffective (Lasius alienus Foerster) seed-dispersing ants across these environmental gradients. Whereas most research links ant foraging and nesting with temperature gradients, we find niche segregation between Aphaenogaster spp. and L. alienus by soil moisture along naturally occurring gradients and in experimentally irrigated upland habitat. The failure of Aphaenogaster spp. to occupy the wettest habitats, where L. alienus is present, is consistent with observed seed dispersal failure in these habitats. These results indicate that environmental heterogeneity drives niche segregation between effective (Aphaenogaster spp.) and ineffective (L. alienus) seed dispersers so each occupies distinct habitat. Most forest understory plants rely on ants for seed dispersal. Our research implies that climate-mediated interactions between effective and ineffective seed dispersing ant species may structure the microhabitat distributions for woodland herbs.

  4. Characterizing the interaction between fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and developing soybean plants.

    PubMed

    Shatters, R G; Vander Meer, R K

    2000-12-01

    This research characterizes the interaction between the fire ants Solenopsis invicta Buren and developing soybean plants. Phagostimulant studies showed that fire ant foraging on soybean seeds increased once the seeds imbibed water. During seedling development over a 5-d germination period, fire ant foraging shifted from the stem/cotyledons to the roots, despite continual increases in fresh weights for each region, and the fact that stem/cotyledon tissue contained the majority of food reserves. Carbohydrate analysis showed that although 2-d-old seedlings had higher concentrations of phagostimulant carbohydrates, especially sucrose, than tissues of mature plants, all tissues analyzed had enough of these sugars to induce a phagostimulant response. Fire ant association with seeds/seedlings germinated in soil resulted in reduced seedling vigor, as determined by a doubling of seedling emergence time, a threefold increase in malformed seedlings, and visible damage to cotyledons. Seeds germinated and grown to mature plants in association with fire ants, allocated 43% more assimilate into pods, but produced 28% less root dry matter, 11% less total dry matter, and there was an 81% reduction in the number of root nodules compared with control plants. We propose that reduced root development and inhibitions of nodule formation would be major yield limiting factors under field conditions. This work demonstrates that fire ant damage to soybeans is not limited to seedling establishment and that more research should be directed at the subterranean activities of the fire ant.

  5. A novel type of nutritional ant-plant interaction: ant partners of carnivorous pitcher plants prevent nutrient export by dipteran pitcher infauna.

    PubMed

    Scharmann, Mathias; Thornham, Daniel G; Grafe, T Ulmar; Federle, Walter

    2013-01-01

    Many plants combat herbivore and pathogen attack indirectly by attracting predators of their herbivores. Here we describe a novel type of insect-plant interaction where a carnivorous plant uses such an indirect defence to prevent nutrient loss to kleptoparasites. The ant Camponotus schmitzi is an obligate inhabitant of the carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes bicalcarata in Borneo. It has recently been suggested that this ant-plant interaction is a nutritional mutualism, but the detailed mechanisms and the origin of the ant-derived nutrient supply have remained unexplained. We confirm that N. bicalcarata host plant leaves naturally have an elevated (15)N/(14)N stable isotope abundance ratio (δ(15)N) when colonised by C. schmitzi. This indicates that a higher proportion of the plants' nitrogen is insect-derived when C. schmitzi ants are present (ca. 100%, vs. 77% in uncolonised plants) and that more nitrogen is available to them. We demonstrated direct flux of nutrients from the ants to the host plant in a (15)N pulse-chase experiment. As C. schmitzi ants only feed on nectar and pitcher contents of their host, the elevated foliar δ(15)N cannot be explained by classic ant-feeding (myrmecotrophy) but must originate from a higher efficiency of the pitcher traps. We discovered that C. schmitzi ants not only increase the pitchers' capture efficiency by keeping the pitchers' trapping surfaces clean, but they also reduce nutrient loss from the pitchers by predating dipteran pitcher inhabitants (infauna). Consequently, nutrients the pitchers would have otherwise lost via emerging flies become available as ant colony waste. The plants' prey is therefore conserved by the ants. The interaction between C. schmitzi, N. bicalcarata and dipteran pitcher infauna represents a new type of mutualism where animals mitigate the damage by nutrient thieves to a plant.

  6. Ant-diaspore interactions during secondary succession in the Atlantic forest of Brazil.

    PubMed

    Zwiener, Victor P; Bihn, Jochen H; Marques, Márcia C M

    2012-06-01

    Animal-plant interactions are important for the recovery of diversity and processes in secondary forests, which increasingly dominate the tropical landscape. We used a combination of observational and experimental approaches to study the interactions of ants with diaspores across a successional gradient of forests in Southern Brazil, from August 2007 to April 2008. In addition to diaspore removal rates, we assessed the species richness, diversity and behaviour of ants interacting with diaspores, in three replicated sites of four successional stages of forests. We recorded 22 ant species interacting with diaspores (an estimated 15% of the total species pool in the region). Species richness and diversity did not differ among successional stages but the behaviour of ants towards diaspores changed with the age of secondary forests. In old successional stages the removal of entire diaspores was more common than in young successional stages of forests. Concordantly, diaspore removal rates were lowest in the youngest successional stage of secondary forests and increased with the age of forests. These results indicate that ant-diaspore interactions in secondary forests are disturbed and lower removal rates in secondary forests are likely to constrain the recruitment of plant populations during secondary succession. PMID:23894957

  7. Ant trophallactic networks: simultaneous measurement of interaction patterns and food dissemination

    PubMed Central

    Greenwald, Efrat; Segre, Enrico; Feinerman, Ofer

    2015-01-01

    Eusocial societies and ants, in particular, maintain tight nutritional regulation at both individual and collective levels. The mechanisms that underlie this control are far from trivial since, in these distributed systems, information about the global supply and demand is not available to any single individual. Here we present a novel technique for non-intervening frequent measurement of the food load of all individuals in an ant colony, including during trophallactic events in which food is transferred by mouth-to-mouth feeding. Ants are imaged using a dual camera setup that produces both barcode-based identification and fluorescence measurement of labeled food. This system provides detailed measurements that enable one to quantitatively study the adaptive food distribution network. To demonstrate the capabilities of our method, we present sample observations that were unattainable using previous techniques, and could provide insight into the mechanisms underlying food exchange. PMID:26224025

  8. Ant trophallactic networks: simultaneous measurement of interaction patterns and food dissemination

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Greenwald, Efrat; Segre, Enrico; Feinerman, Ofer

    2015-07-01

    Eusocial societies and ants, in particular, maintain tight nutritional regulation at both individual and collective levels. The mechanisms that underlie this control are far from trivial since, in these distributed systems, information about the global supply and demand is not available to any single individual. Here we present a novel technique for non-intervening frequent measurement of the food load of all individuals in an ant colony, including during trophallactic events in which food is transferred by mouth-to-mouth feeding. Ants are imaged using a dual camera setup that produces both barcode-based identification and fluorescence measurement of labeled food. This system provides detailed measurements that enable one to quantitatively study the adaptive food distribution network. To demonstrate the capabilities of our method, we present sample observations that were unattainable using previous techniques, and could provide insight into the mechanisms underlying food exchange.

  9. Ant trophallactic networks: simultaneous measurement of interaction patterns and food dissemination.

    PubMed

    Greenwald, Efrat; Segre, Enrico; Feinerman, Ofer

    2015-01-01

    Eusocial societies and ants, in particular, maintain tight nutritional regulation at both individual and collective levels. The mechanisms that underlie this control are far from trivial since, in these distributed systems, information about the global supply and demand is not available to any single individual. Here we present a novel technique for non-intervening frequent measurement of the food load of all individuals in an ant colony, including during trophallactic events in which food is transferred by mouth-to-mouth feeding. Ants are imaged using a dual camera setup that produces both barcode-based identification and fluorescence measurement of labeled food. This system provides detailed measurements that enable one to quantitatively study the adaptive food distribution network. To demonstrate the capabilities of our method, we present sample observations that were unattainable using previous techniques, and could provide insight into the mechanisms underlying food exchange. PMID:26224025

  10. The Effect of Temperature Increases on an Ant-Hemiptera-Plant Interaction.

    PubMed

    Sagata, Katayo; Gibb, Heloise

    2016-01-01

    Global temperature increases are significantly altering species distributions and the structure of ecological communities. However, the impact of temperature increases on multi- species interactions is poorly understood. We used an ant-Hemiptera-plant interaction to examine the potential outcomes of predicted temperature increases for each partner and for the availability of honeydew, a keystone resource in many forest ecosystems. We re-created this interaction in growth cabinets using predicted mean summer temperatures for Melbourne, Australia, for the years 2011 (23°C), 2050 (25°C) and 2100 (29°C), respectively, under an unmitigated greenhouse gas emission scenario. Plant growth and ant foraging activities increased, while scale insect growth, abundance and size, honeydew standing crop per tree and harvesting by ants decreased at 29°C, relative to lower temperatures (23 and 25°C). This led to decreased scale insect infestations of plants and reduced honeydew standing crop per tree at the highest temperature. At all temperatures, honeydew standing crop was lower when ants harvested the honeydew from scale insects, but the impact of ant harvesting was particularly significant at 29°C, where combined effects of temperature and ants reduced honeydew standing crop to below detectable levels. Although temperature increases in the next 35 years will have limited effects on this system, by the end of this century, warmer temperatures may cause the availability of honeydew to decline. Decline of honeydew may have far-reaching trophic effects on honeydew and ant-mediated interactions. However, field-based studies that consider the full complexity of ecosystems may be required to elucidate these impacts. PMID:27434232

  11. The Effect of Temperature Increases on an Ant-Hemiptera-Plant Interaction

    PubMed Central

    Gibb, Heloise

    2016-01-01

    Global temperature increases are significantly altering species distributions and the structure of ecological communities. However, the impact of temperature increases on multi- species interactions is poorly understood. We used an ant-Hemiptera-plant interaction to examine the potential outcomes of predicted temperature increases for each partner and for the availability of honeydew, a keystone resource in many forest ecosystems. We re-created this interaction in growth cabinets using predicted mean summer temperatures for Melbourne, Australia, for the years 2011 (23°C), 2050 (25°C) and 2100 (29°C), respectively, under an unmitigated greenhouse gas emission scenario. Plant growth and ant foraging activities increased, while scale insect growth, abundance and size, honeydew standing crop per tree and harvesting by ants decreased at 29°C, relative to lower temperatures (23 and 25°C). This led to decreased scale insect infestations of plants and reduced honeydew standing crop per tree at the highest temperature. At all temperatures, honeydew standing crop was lower when ants harvested the honeydew from scale insects, but the impact of ant harvesting was particularly significant at 29°C, where combined effects of temperature and ants reduced honeydew standing crop to below detectable levels. Although temperature increases in the next 35 years will have limited effects on this system, by the end of this century, warmer temperatures may cause the availability of honeydew to decline. Decline of honeydew may have far-reaching trophic effects on honeydew and ant-mediated interactions. However, field-based studies that consider the full complexity of ecosystems may be required to elucidate these impacts. PMID:27434232

  12. "Holding High the Standard": The Influence of the American Education Society in Ante-Bellum Education.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Naylor, Natalie A.

    1984-01-01

    The primary concerns of the American Education Society (AES), formed in Boston in 1815 as part of a Protestant crusade to save the nation, were the education of ministers and the revitalization of religion. The educational influence of the AES in antebellum higher education is discussed. (RM)

  13. Plant-ants use symbiotic fungi as a food source: new insight into the nutritional ecology of ant-plant interactions.

    PubMed

    Blatrix, Rumsaïs; Djiéto-Lordon, Champlain; Mondolot, Laurence; La Fisca, Philippe; Voglmayr, Hermann; McKey, Doyle

    2012-10-01

    Usually studied as pairwise interactions, mutualisms often involve networks of interacting species. Numerous tropical arboreal ants are specialist inhabitants of myrmecophytes (plants bearing domatia, i.e. hollow structures specialized to host ants) and are thought to rely almost exclusively on resources derived from the host plant. Recent studies, following up on century-old reports, have shown that fungi of the ascomycete order Chaetothyriales live in symbiosis with plant-ants within domatia. We tested the hypothesis that ants use domatia-inhabiting fungi as food in three ant-plant symbioses: Petalomyrmex phylax/Leonardoxa africana, Tetraponera aethiops/Barteria fistulosa and Pseudomyrmex penetrator/Tachigali sp. Labelling domatia fungal patches in the field with either a fluorescent dye or (15)N showed that larvae ingested domatia fungi. Furthermore, when the natural fungal patch was replaced with a piece of a (15)N-labelled pure culture of either of two Chaetothyriales strains isolated from T. aethiops colonies, these fungi were also consumed. These two fungi often co-occur in the same ant colony. Interestingly, T. aethiops workers and larvae ingested preferentially one of the two strains. Our results add a new piece in the puzzle of the nutritional ecology of plant-ants. PMID:22859596

  14. Plant-ants use symbiotic fungi as a food source: new insight into the nutritional ecology of ant-plant interactions.

    PubMed

    Blatrix, Rumsaïs; Djiéto-Lordon, Champlain; Mondolot, Laurence; La Fisca, Philippe; Voglmayr, Hermann; McKey, Doyle

    2012-10-01

    Usually studied as pairwise interactions, mutualisms often involve networks of interacting species. Numerous tropical arboreal ants are specialist inhabitants of myrmecophytes (plants bearing domatia, i.e. hollow structures specialized to host ants) and are thought to rely almost exclusively on resources derived from the host plant. Recent studies, following up on century-old reports, have shown that fungi of the ascomycete order Chaetothyriales live in symbiosis with plant-ants within domatia. We tested the hypothesis that ants use domatia-inhabiting fungi as food in three ant-plant symbioses: Petalomyrmex phylax/Leonardoxa africana, Tetraponera aethiops/Barteria fistulosa and Pseudomyrmex penetrator/Tachigali sp. Labelling domatia fungal patches in the field with either a fluorescent dye or (15)N showed that larvae ingested domatia fungi. Furthermore, when the natural fungal patch was replaced with a piece of a (15)N-labelled pure culture of either of two Chaetothyriales strains isolated from T. aethiops colonies, these fungi were also consumed. These two fungi often co-occur in the same ant colony. Interestingly, T. aethiops workers and larvae ingested preferentially one of the two strains. Our results add a new piece in the puzzle of the nutritional ecology of plant-ants.

  15. Visualization of Metabolic Interaction Networks in Microbial Communities Using VisANT 5.0.

    PubMed

    Granger, Brian R; Chang, Yi-Chien; Wang, Yan; DeLisi, Charles; Segrè, Daniel; Hu, Zhenjun

    2016-04-01

    The complexity of metabolic networks in microbial communities poses an unresolved visualization and interpretation challenge. We address this challenge in the newly expanded version of a software tool for the analysis of biological networks, VisANT 5.0. We focus in particular on facilitating the visual exploration of metabolic interaction between microbes in a community, e.g. as predicted by COMETS (Computation of Microbial Ecosystems in Time and Space), a dynamic stoichiometric modeling framework. Using VisANT's unique metagraph implementation, we show how one can use VisANT 5.0 to explore different time-dependent ecosystem-level metabolic networks. In particular, we analyze the metabolic interaction network between two bacteria previously shown to display an obligate cross-feeding interdependency. In addition, we illustrate how a putative minimal gut microbiome community could be represented in our framework, making it possible to highlight interactions across multiple coexisting species. We envisage that the "symbiotic layout" of VisANT can be employed as a general tool for the analysis of metabolism in complex microbial communities as well as heterogeneous human tissues. VisANT is freely available at: http://visant.bu.edu and COMETS at http://comets.bu.edu.

  16. Visualization of Metabolic Interaction Networks in Microbial Communities Using VisANT 5.0.

    PubMed

    Granger, Brian R; Chang, Yi-Chien; Wang, Yan; DeLisi, Charles; Segrè, Daniel; Hu, Zhenjun

    2016-04-01

    The complexity of metabolic networks in microbial communities poses an unresolved visualization and interpretation challenge. We address this challenge in the newly expanded version of a software tool for the analysis of biological networks, VisANT 5.0. We focus in particular on facilitating the visual exploration of metabolic interaction between microbes in a community, e.g. as predicted by COMETS (Computation of Microbial Ecosystems in Time and Space), a dynamic stoichiometric modeling framework. Using VisANT's unique metagraph implementation, we show how one can use VisANT 5.0 to explore different time-dependent ecosystem-level metabolic networks. In particular, we analyze the metabolic interaction network between two bacteria previously shown to display an obligate cross-feeding interdependency. In addition, we illustrate how a putative minimal gut microbiome community could be represented in our framework, making it possible to highlight interactions across multiple coexisting species. We envisage that the "symbiotic layout" of VisANT can be employed as a general tool for the analysis of metabolism in complex microbial communities as well as heterogeneous human tissues. VisANT is freely available at: http://visant.bu.edu and COMETS at http://comets.bu.edu. PMID:27081850

  17. Nutrition and interference competition have interactive effects on the behavior and performance of Argentine ants.

    PubMed

    Kay, Adam D; Zumbusch, Taylor; Heinen, Justa L; Marsh, Tom C; Holway, David A

    2010-01-01

    Food availability often influences competitive outcomes through effects on consumer growth. Although it has received less attention, food availability may also affect competition through nutritional effects on behavior. One hypothesis linking nutrition and competition in ants posits that increased access to carbohydrates favors greater investment in worker traits that underlie behavioral dominance. We tested this hypothesis by varying dietary protein:carbohydrate (P:C) ratios and levels of interspecific interference for Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), a widespread invasive species. As predicted, colonies facing interference increased patrolling more when reared on low P:C diets; this result is the first demonstration of an interactive effect of nutrition and interference on ant colonies. Several results suggest that this dietary effect on patrolling was due primarily to changes in colony size rather than worker behavior. Colonies on lower P:C diets had lower worker mortality and larger final colony sizes. Diet had little effect on per capita patrolling, and worker behavior in performance assays depended more on previous exposure to interference than on diet. Our findings indicate that dietary P:C ratios can influence Argentine ant performance in a competitive environment and suggest a mechanism by which monopolization of carbohydrate-rich resources can help invasive ants displace native ant competitors.

  18. Mathematical modeling on obligate mutualism: Interactions between leaf-cutter ants and their fungus garden.

    PubMed

    Kang, Yun; Clark, Rebecca; Makiyama, Michael; Fewell, Jennifer

    2011-11-21

    We propose a simple mathematical model by applying Michaelis-Menton equations of enzyme kinetics to study the mutualistic interaction between the leaf cutter ant and its fungus garden at the early stage of colony expansion. We derive sufficient conditions on the extinction and coexistence of these two species. In addition, we give a region of initial condition that leads to the extinction of two species when the model has an interior attractor. Our global analysis indicates that the division of labor by worker ants and initial conditions are two important factors that determine whether leaf cutter ants' colonies and their fungus garden can survive and grow or not. We validate the model by comparing model simulations and data on fungal and ant colony growth rates under laboratory conditions. We perform sensitive analysis of the model based on the experimental data to gain more biological insights on ecological interactions between leaf-cutter ants and their fungus garden. Finally, we give conclusions and discuss potential future work.

  19. A neurotoxic pesticide changes the outcome of aggressive interactions between native and invasive ants.

    PubMed

    Barbieri, Rafael F; Lester, Philip J; Miller, Alexander S; Ryan, Ken G

    2013-12-01

    Neurotoxic pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, negatively affect the cognitive capacity and fitness of non-target species, and could also modify interspecific interactions. We tested whether sublethal contamination with neonicotinoid could affect foraging, colony fitness and the outcome of behavioural interactions between a native (Monomorium antarcticum) and an invasive ant species (Linepithema humile). The foraging behaviour of both ants was not affected by neonicotinoid exposure. Colonies of the invasive species exposed to the neonicotinoid produced significantly fewer brood. In interspecific confrontations, individuals of the native species exposed to the neonicotinoid lowered their aggression towards the invasive species, although their survival probability was not affected. Exposed individuals of the invasive species interacting with non-exposed native ants displayed increased aggression and had their survival probability reduced. Non-exposed individuals of the invasive species were less aggressive but more likely to survive when interacting with exposed native ants. These results suggest that non-target exposure of invaders to neonicotinoids could either increase or decrease the probability of survival according to the exposure status of the native species. Given that, in any community, different species have different food preferences, and thus different exposure to pesticides, non-target exposure could potentially change the dynamics of communities and influence invasion success.

  20. Positive interactions between desert granivores: localized facilitation of harvester ants by kangaroo rats.

    PubMed

    Edelman, Andrew J

    2012-01-01

    Facilitation, when one species enhances the environment or performance of another species, can be highly localized in space. While facilitation in plant communities has been intensely studied, the role of facilitation in shaping animal communities is less well understood. In the Chihuahuan Desert, both kangaroo rats and harvester ants depend on the abundant seeds of annual plants. Kangaroo rats, however, are hypothesized to facilitate harvester ants through soil disturbance and selective seed predation rather than competing with them. I used a spatially explicit approach to examine whether a positive or negative interaction exists between banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis) mounds and rough harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex rugosus) colonies. The presence of a scale-dependent interaction between mounds and colonies was tested by comparing fitted spatial point process models with and without interspecific effects. Also, the effect of proximity to a mound on colony mortality and spatial patterns of surviving colonies was examined. The spatial pattern of kangaroo rat mounds and harvester ant colonies was consistent with a positive interspecific interaction at small scales (<10 m). Mortality risk of vulnerable, recently founded harvester ant colonies was lower when located close to a kangaroo rat mound and proximity to a mound partly predicted the spatial pattern of surviving colonies. My findings support localized facilitation of harvester ants by kangaroo rats, likely mediated through ecosystem engineering and foraging effects on plant cover and composition. The scale-dependent effect of kangaroo rats on abiotic and biotic factors appears to result in greater founding and survivorship of young colonies near mounds. These results suggest that soil disturbance and foraging by rodents can have subtle impacts on the distribution and demography of other species.

  1. Chemical warfare among invaders: a detoxification interaction facilitates an ant invasion.

    PubMed

    Lebrun, Edward G; Jones, Nathan T; Gilbert, Lawrence E

    2014-02-28

    As tawny crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva) invade the southern United States, they often displace imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta). After exposure to S. invicta venom, N. fulva applies abdominal exocrine gland secretions to its cuticle. Bioassays reveal that these secretions detoxify S. invicta venom. Further, formic acid from N. fulva venom is the detoxifying agent. N. fulva exhibits this detoxification behavior after conflict with a variety of ant species; however, it expresses it most intensely after interactions with S. invicta. This behavior may have evolved in their shared South American native range. The capacity to detoxify a major competitor's venom probably contributes substantially to its ability to displace S. invicta populations, making this behavior a causative agent in the ecological transformation of regional arthropod assemblages. PMID:24526314

  2. Ants use odour cues to exploit fig-fig wasp interactions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schatz, Bertrand; Hossaert-McKey, Martine

    2010-01-01

    Fig wasps may constitute a relatively abundant food source for ants associated with the fig-fig wasp nursery pollination mutualism. We found previously that a Mediterranean ant species detects fig wasps by chemical signals. In this paper we want to test the generality of this finding by studying two tropical ants, Oecophylla smaragdina and Crematogaster sp., preying on fig wasps on the dioecious Ficus fistulosa in Brunei (Borneo). Behavioural tests in a Y-tube olfactometer showed that these two ants were attracted both to odours emitted by receptive figs and to those emitted by fig wasps (male and female of the pollinator, and a non-pollinating fig wasp) used here as a kairomone. Naïve workers were not attracted to fig wasps, suggesting that olfactory learning may play a role in prey detection. We also found that O. smaragdina was much more likely to be present on figs of male trees (where fig wasps are more abundant), and that the abundance of this ant species varied strongly with developmental phase of figs on individual trees. Moreover, its aggressiveness was also strongly influenced by the nature of the object presented in our behavioural tests, the site of the test and the developmental phase of the fig tested. Investigation on the chemical and behavioural ecology of the different interacting species provides important insights into the intricate relationships supported by the fig-fig wasp mutualism.

  3. Visualization of Metabolic Interaction Networks in Microbial Communities Using VisANT 5.0

    PubMed Central

    Wang, Yan; DeLisi, Charles; Segrè, Daniel; Hu, Zhenjun

    2016-01-01

    The complexity of metabolic networks in microbial communities poses an unresolved visualization and interpretation challenge. We address this challenge in the newly expanded version of a software tool for the analysis of biological networks, VisANT 5.0. We focus in particular on facilitating the visual exploration of metabolic interaction between microbes in a community, e.g. as predicted by COMETS (Computation of Microbial Ecosystems in Time and Space), a dynamic stoichiometric modeling framework. Using VisANT’s unique metagraph implementation, we show how one can use VisANT 5.0 to explore different time-dependent ecosystem-level metabolic networks. In particular, we analyze the metabolic interaction network between two bacteria previously shown to display an obligate cross-feeding interdependency. In addition, we illustrate how a putative minimal gut microbiome community could be represented in our framework, making it possible to highlight interactions across multiple coexisting species. We envisage that the “symbiotic layout” of VisANT can be employed as a general tool for the analysis of metabolism in complex microbial communities as well as heterogeneous human tissues. VisANT is freely available at: http://visant.bu.edu and COMETS at http://comets.bu.edu. PMID:27081850

  4. Visualization of metabolic interaction networks in microbial communities using VisANT 5.0

    DOE PAGESBeta

    Granger, Brian R.; Chang, Yi -Chien; Wang, Yan; DeLisi, Charles; Segre, Daniel; Hu, Zhenjun

    2016-04-15

    Here, the complexity of metabolic networks in microbial communities poses an unresolved visualization and interpretation challenge. We address this challenge in the newly expanded version of a software tool for the analysis of biological networks, VisANT 5.0. We focus in particular on facilitating the visual exploration of metabolic interaction between microbes in a community, e.g. as predicted by COMETS (Computation of Microbial Ecosystems in Time and Space), a dynamic stoichiometric modeling framework. Using VisANT's unique meta-graph implementation, we show how one can use VisANT 5.0 to explore different time-dependent ecosystem-level metabolic networks. In particular, we analyze the metabolic interaction networkmore » between two bacteria previously shown to display an obligate cross-feeding interdependency. In addition, we illustrate how a putative minimal gut microbiome community could be represented in our framework, making it possible to highlight interactions across multiple coexisting species. We envisage that the "symbiotic layout" of VisANT can be employed as a general tool for the analysis of metabolism in complex microbial communities as well as heterogeneous human tissues.« less

  5. Global political system's perspective to climate-society interactions

    SciTech Connect

    Schware, R

    1980-01-01

    The purpose of this paper is to suggest some of the principal elements that might be useful in the development of a general theory of the climate-society interaction, to point out some of the pathways and linkages among political components involved in coping with climatic impacts, and to identify some obstacles, strategies, and incentives that apply to making policy choices related to climate.

  6. Biodiversity on Broadway - Enigmatic Diversity of the Societies of Ants (Formicidae) on the Streets of New York City

    PubMed Central

    Pećarević, Marko; Danoff-Burg, James; Dunn, Robert R.

    2010-01-01

    Each year, a larger proportion of the Earth's surface is urbanized, and a larger proportion of the people on Earth lives in those urban areas. The everyday nature, however, that humans encounter in cities remains poorly understood. Here, we consider perhaps the most urban green habitat, street medians. We sampled ants from forty-four medians along three boulevards in New York City and examined how median properties affect the abundance and species richness of native and introduced ants found on them. Ant species richness varied among streets and increased with area but was independent of the other median attributes measured. Ant assemblages were highly nested, with three numerically dominant species present at all medians and additional species present at a subset of medians. The most common ant species were the introduced Pavement ant (Tetramorium caespitum) and the native Thief ant (Solenopsis molesta) and Cornfield ant (Lasius neoniger). The common introduced species on the medians responded differently to natural and disturbed elements of medians. Tetramorium caespitum was most abundant in small medians, with the greatest edge/area ratio, particularly if those medians had few trees, whereas Nylanderia flavipes was most abundant in the largest medians, particularly if they had more trees. Many of the species encountered in Manhattan were similar to those found in other large North American cities, such that a relatively small subset of ant species probably represent most of the encounters humans have with ants in North America. PMID:20957156

  7. Assessing the Impact of Deforestation of the Atlantic Rainforest on Ant-Fruit Interactions: A Field Experiment Using Synthetic Fruits

    PubMed Central

    Bieber, Ana Gabriela D.; Silva, Paulo S. D.; Sendoya, Sebastián F.; Oliveira, Paulo S.

    2014-01-01

    Ants frequently interact with fleshy fruits on the ground of tropical forests. This interaction is regarded as mutualistic because seeds benefit from enhanced germination and dispersal to nutrient-rich microsites, whereas ants benefit from consuming the nutritious pulp/aril. Considering that the process of deforestation affects many attributes of the ecosystem such as species abundance and composition, and interspecific interactions, we asked whether the interaction between ants and fallen fleshy fruits in the Brazilian Atlantic forest differs between human-created fragments and undisturbed forests. We controlled diaspore type and quantity by using synthetic fruits (a plastic ‘seed’ covered by a lipid-rich ‘pulp’), which were comparable to lipid-rich fruits. Eight independent areas (four undisturbed forests, and four disturbed forest fragments) were used in the field experiment, in which we recorded the attracted ant species, ant behaviour, and fruit removal distance. Fruits in undisturbed forest sites attracted a higher number of species than those in disturbed forests. Moreover, the occurrence of large, fruit-carrying ponerine ants (Pachycondyla, Odontomachus; 1.1 to 1.4 cm) was higher in undisturbed forests. Large species (≥3 mm) of Pheidole (Myrmicinae), also able to remove fruits, did not differ between forest types. Following these changes in species occurrence, fruit displacement was more frequent in undisturbed than in disturbed forests. Moreover, displacement distances were also greater in the undisturbed forests. Our data suggest that fallen fleshy fruits interacting with ants face different fates depending on the conservation status of the forest. Together with the severe loss of their primary dispersers in human-disturbed tropical forest sites, vertebrate-dispersed fruits may also be deprived of potential ant-derived benefits in these habitats due to shifts in the composition of interacting ant species. Our data illustrate the use of synthetic

  8. Assessing the impact of deforestation of the Atlantic rainforest on ant-fruit interactions: a field experiment using synthetic fruits.

    PubMed

    Bieber, Ana Gabriela D; Silva, Paulo S D; Sendoya, Sebastián F; Oliveira, Paulo S

    2014-01-01

    Ants frequently interact with fleshy fruits on the ground of tropical forests. This interaction is regarded as mutualistic because seeds benefit from enhanced germination and dispersal to nutrient-rich microsites, whereas ants benefit from consuming the nutritious pulp/aril. Considering that the process of deforestation affects many attributes of the ecosystem such as species abundance and composition, and interspecific interactions, we asked whether the interaction between ants and fallen fleshy fruits in the Brazilian Atlantic forest differs between human-created fragments and undisturbed forests. We controlled diaspore type and quantity by using synthetic fruits (a plastic 'seed' covered by a lipid-rich 'pulp'), which were comparable to lipid-rich fruits. Eight independent areas (four undisturbed forests, and four disturbed forest fragments) were used in the field experiment, in which we recorded the attracted ant species, ant behaviour, and fruit removal distance. Fruits in undisturbed forest sites attracted a higher number of species than those in disturbed forests. Moreover, the occurrence of large, fruit-carrying ponerine ants (Pachycondyla, Odontomachus; 1.1 to 1.4 cm) was higher in undisturbed forests. Large species (≥3 mm) of Pheidole (Myrmicinae), also able to remove fruits, did not differ between forest types. Following these changes in species occurrence, fruit displacement was more frequent in undisturbed than in disturbed forests. Moreover, displacement distances were also greater in the undisturbed forests. Our data suggest that fallen fleshy fruits interacting with ants face different fates depending on the conservation status of the forest. Together with the severe loss of their primary dispersers in human-disturbed tropical forest sites, vertebrate-dispersed fruits may also be deprived of potential ant-derived benefits in these habitats due to shifts in the composition of interacting ant species. Our data illustrate the use of synthetic fruits

  9. Homing strategies of the Australian desert ant Melophorus bagoti. II. Interaction of the path integrator with visual cue information.

    PubMed

    Narendra, Ajay

    2007-05-01

    Individually foraging ants are known to return to their nest by using path-integration and recording visual information present in the environment. The interaction between the path integrator and the information provided by the visual cues in an Australian desert ant are reported here. Ants were trained to travel in a 1-m wide and 20-m long corridor of cylinders. Homeward paths of trained ants were recorded in the presence and absence of vector information and route cues in both the familiar training field and in an unfamiliar test field. Homing ants used route cue information only in a familiar context. The route cues were not essential but served to reduce the deviation of the homing trajectory from the nest-feeder line. When displaced locally, homebound ants initially oriented towards the nest using distant cues and then headed in a direction intermediate between that dictated by the path integrator and the distant cues. If in the course of travel ants encountered the familiar path they adhered to it. If not, they travelled on average half the distance of the outbound journey and initiated a search directed towards the nest. Following the search, ants headed in a direction intermediate between that dictated by the route cues and the distant cues. In an unfamiliar context neither vector nor route cue information could steer a homing ant towards the nest. The dominance of distant cues, the importance of familiar context and the interaction between different navigation strategies are discussed here.

  10. Interacting and paradoxical forces in neuroscience and society

    PubMed Central

    Singh, Jennifer; Hallmayer, Joachim; Illes, Judy

    2007-01-01

    Discoveries in the field of neuroscience are a natural source of discourse among scientists and have long been disseminated to the public. Historically, as news of findings has travelled between communities, it has elicited both expected and unusual reactions. What scientific landmarks promote discourse within the professional community? Do the same findings achieve a place in the public eye? How does the media choose what is newsworthy, and why does the public react the way it does? Drawing on examples of past challenges at the crossroads of neuroscience and society and on a case study of trends in one neurogenetic disease, autism, we explore the dialectical forces interacting in scientific and public discourse. PMID:17237806

  11. Fire in the Amazon: impact of experimental fuel addition on responses of ants and their interactions with myrmecochorous seeds.

    PubMed

    Paolucci, Lucas N; Maia, Maria L B; Solar, Ricardo R C; Campos, Ricardo I; Schoereder, José H; Andersen, Alan N

    2016-10-01

    The widespread clearing of tropical forests causes lower tree cover, drier microclimate, and higher and drier fuel loads of forest edges, increasing the risk of fire occurrence and its intensity. We used a manipulative field experiment to investigate the influence of fire and fuel loads on ant communities and their interactions with myrmecochorous seeds in the southern Amazon, a region currently undergoing extreme land-use intensification. Experimental fires and fuel addition were applied to 40 × 40-m plots in six replicated blocks, and ants were sampled between 15 and 30 days after fires in four strata: subterranean, litter, epigaeic, and arboreal. Fire had extensive negative effects on ant communities. Highly specialized cryptobiotic and predator species of the litter layer and epigaeic specialist predators were among the most sensitive, but we did not find evidence of overall biotic homogenization following fire. Fire reduced rates of location and transport of myrmecochorous seeds, and therefore the effectiveness of a key ecosystem service provided by ants, which we attribute to lower ant abundance and increased thermal stress. Experimental fuel addition had only minor effects on attributes of fire severity, and limited effects on ant responses to fire. Our findings indicate that enhanced fuel loads will not decrease ant diversity and ecosystem services through increased fire severity, at least in wetter years. However, higher fuel loads can still have a significant effect on ants from Amazonian rainforests because they increase the risk of fire occurrence, which has a detrimental impact on ant communities and a key ecosystem service they provide.

  12. Fire in the Amazon: impact of experimental fuel addition on responses of ants and their interactions with myrmecochorous seeds.

    PubMed

    Paolucci, Lucas N; Maia, Maria L B; Solar, Ricardo R C; Campos, Ricardo I; Schoereder, José H; Andersen, Alan N

    2016-10-01

    The widespread clearing of tropical forests causes lower tree cover, drier microclimate, and higher and drier fuel loads of forest edges, increasing the risk of fire occurrence and its intensity. We used a manipulative field experiment to investigate the influence of fire and fuel loads on ant communities and their interactions with myrmecochorous seeds in the southern Amazon, a region currently undergoing extreme land-use intensification. Experimental fires and fuel addition were applied to 40 × 40-m plots in six replicated blocks, and ants were sampled between 15 and 30 days after fires in four strata: subterranean, litter, epigaeic, and arboreal. Fire had extensive negative effects on ant communities. Highly specialized cryptobiotic and predator species of the litter layer and epigaeic specialist predators were among the most sensitive, but we did not find evidence of overall biotic homogenization following fire. Fire reduced rates of location and transport of myrmecochorous seeds, and therefore the effectiveness of a key ecosystem service provided by ants, which we attribute to lower ant abundance and increased thermal stress. Experimental fuel addition had only minor effects on attributes of fire severity, and limited effects on ant responses to fire. Our findings indicate that enhanced fuel loads will not decrease ant diversity and ecosystem services through increased fire severity, at least in wetter years. However, higher fuel loads can still have a significant effect on ants from Amazonian rainforests because they increase the risk of fire occurrence, which has a detrimental impact on ant communities and a key ecosystem service they provide. PMID:27206792

  13. Effect of post-fire resprouting on leaf fluctuating asymmetry, extrafloral nectar quality, and ant-plant-herbivore interactions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alves-Silva, Estevão; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2013-06-01

    Fires in the Cerrado savanna are a severe form of disturbance, but some species are capable of resprouting afterwards. It is unknown, however, how and whether post-fire resprouting represents a stressful condition to plants and how their rapid re-growth influences both the production of biochemical compounds, and interactions with mutualistic ants. In this study, we examined the influence of post-fire resprouting on biotic interactions (ant-plant-herbivore relationships) and on plant stress. The study was performed on two groups of the extrafloral nectaried shrub Banisteriopsis campestris (Malpighiaceae); one group was recovering from fire while the other acted as control. With respect to biotic interactions, we examined whether resprouting influenced extrafloral nectar concentration (milligrams per microliter), the abundance of the ant Camponotus crassus and leaf herbivory rates. Plant stress was assessed via fluctuating asymmetry (FA) analysis, which refers to deviations from perfect symmetry in bilaterally symmetrical traits (e.g., leaves) and indicates whether species are under stress. Results revealed that FA, sugar concentration, and ant abundance were 51.7 %, 35.7 % and 21.7 % higher in resprouting plants. Furthermore, C. crassus was significantly associated with low herbivory rates, but only in resprouting plants. This study showed that post-fire resprouting induced high levels of plant stress and influenced extrafloral nectar quality and ant-herbivore relationships in B. campestris. Therefore, despite being a stressful condition to the plant, post-fire resprouting individuals had concentrated extrafloral nectar and sustained more ants, thus strengthening the outcomes of ant-plant mutualism.

  14. Effect of post-fire resprouting on leaf fluctuating asymmetry, extrafloral nectar quality, and ant-plant-herbivore interactions.

    PubMed

    Alves-Silva, Estevão; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2013-06-01

    Fires in the Cerrado savanna are a severe form of disturbance, but some species are capable of resprouting afterwards. It is unknown, however, how and whether post-fire resprouting represents a stressful condition to plants and how their rapid re-growth influences both the production of biochemical compounds, and interactions with mutualistic ants. In this study, we examined the influence of post-fire resprouting on biotic interactions (ant-plant-herbivore relationships) and on plant stress. The study was performed on two groups of the extrafloral nectaried shrub Banisteriopsis campestris (Malpighiaceae); one group was recovering from fire while the other acted as control. With respect to biotic interactions, we examined whether resprouting influenced extrafloral nectar concentration (milligrams per microliter), the abundance of the ant Camponotus crassus and leaf herbivory rates. Plant stress was assessed via fluctuating asymmetry (FA) analysis, which refers to deviations from perfect symmetry in bilaterally symmetrical traits (e.g., leaves) and indicates whether species are under stress. Results revealed that FA, sugar concentration, and ant abundance were 51.7 %, 35.7 % and 21.7 % higher in resprouting plants. Furthermore, C. crassus was significantly associated with low herbivory rates, but only in resprouting plants. This study showed that post-fire resprouting induced high levels of plant stress and influenced extrafloral nectar quality and ant-herbivore relationships in B. campestris. Therefore, despite being a stressful condition to the plant, post-fire resprouting individuals had concentrated extrafloral nectar and sustained more ants, thus strengthening the outcomes of ant-plant mutualism.

  15. Integrative study on chromosome evolution of mammals, ants and wasps based on the minimum interaction theory.

    PubMed

    Imai, H T; Satta, Y; Takahata, N

    2001-06-21

    There is well-known evidence that in many eukaryotes, different species have different karyotypes (e.g. n=1-47 in ants and n=3-51 in mammals). Alternative (fusion and fission) hypotheses have been proposed to interpret this chromosomal diversity. Although the former has long been accepted, accumulating molecular genetics evidence seems to support the latter. We investigated this problem from a stochastic viewpoint using the Monte Carlo simulation method under the minimum interaction theory. We found that the results of simulations consistently interpreted the chromosomal diversity observed in mammals, ants and wasps, and concluded that chromosome evolution tends to evolve as a whole toward increasing chromosome numbers by centric fission. Accordingly, our results support the fission hypothesis. We discussed the process of chromosome evolution based on the latest theory of the molecular structure of chromosomes, and reconfirmed that the fission burst is the prime motive force in long-term chromosome evolution, and is effective in minimizing the genetic risks due to deleterious reciprocal translocations and in increasing the potential of genetic divergence. Centric fusion plays a biological role in eliminating heterochromatin (C-bands), but is only a local reverse flow in contrast to the previously held views.

  16. Feeding behavior and social interactions of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile change with sucrose concentration.

    PubMed

    Sola, F J; Josens, R

    2016-08-01

    Liquid sugar baits are well accepted by the Argentine ant Linepithema humile and are suitable for the chemical control of this invasive species. We evaluated how sugar concentrations affect the foraging behavior of L. humile individuals. We quantified feeding variables for individual foragers (ingested load, feeding time and solution intake rate) when feeding on sucrose solutions of different concentrations, as well as post-feeding interactions with nestmates. Solutions of intermediate sucrose concentrations (10-30%) were the most consumed and had the highest intake rates, whereas solutions of high sucrose concentrations (60 and 70%) resulted in extended feeding times, low intake rates and ants having smaller crop loads. In terms of post-feeding interactions, individuals fed solutions of intermediate sucrose concentrations (20%) had the highest probability of conducting trophallaxis and the smallest latency to drop exposure (i.e. lowest time delay). Trophallaxis duration increased with increasing sucrose concentrations. Behavioral motor displays, including contacts with head jerking and walking with a gaster waggle, were lowest for individuals that ingested the more dilute sucrose solution (5%). These behaviors have been previously suggested to act as a communication channel for the activation and/or recruitment of nestmates. We show here that sucrose concentration affects feeding dynamics and modulates decision making related to individual behavior and social interactions of foragers. Our results indicate that intermediate sucrose concentrations (ca. 20%), appear to be most appropriate for toxic baits because they promote rapid foraging cycles, a high crop load per individual, and a high degree of stimulation for recruitment.

  17. Feeding behavior and social interactions of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile change with sucrose concentration.

    PubMed

    Sola, F J; Josens, R

    2016-08-01

    Liquid sugar baits are well accepted by the Argentine ant Linepithema humile and are suitable for the chemical control of this invasive species. We evaluated how sugar concentrations affect the foraging behavior of L. humile individuals. We quantified feeding variables for individual foragers (ingested load, feeding time and solution intake rate) when feeding on sucrose solutions of different concentrations, as well as post-feeding interactions with nestmates. Solutions of intermediate sucrose concentrations (10-30%) were the most consumed and had the highest intake rates, whereas solutions of high sucrose concentrations (60 and 70%) resulted in extended feeding times, low intake rates and ants having smaller crop loads. In terms of post-feeding interactions, individuals fed solutions of intermediate sucrose concentrations (20%) had the highest probability of conducting trophallaxis and the smallest latency to drop exposure (i.e. lowest time delay). Trophallaxis duration increased with increasing sucrose concentrations. Behavioral motor displays, including contacts with head jerking and walking with a gaster waggle, were lowest for individuals that ingested the more dilute sucrose solution (5%). These behaviors have been previously suggested to act as a communication channel for the activation and/or recruitment of nestmates. We show here that sucrose concentration affects feeding dynamics and modulates decision making related to individual behavior and social interactions of foragers. Our results indicate that intermediate sucrose concentrations (ca. 20%), appear to be most appropriate for toxic baits because they promote rapid foraging cycles, a high crop load per individual, and a high degree of stimulation for recruitment. PMID:27063551

  18. The Pied Piper: A Parasitic Beetle's Melodies Modulate Ant Behaviours.

    PubMed

    Di Giulio, Andrea; Maurizi, Emanuela; Barbero, Francesca; Sala, Marco; Fattorini, Simone; Balletto, Emilio; Bonelli, Simona

    2015-01-01

    Ants use various communication channels to regulate their social organisation. The main channel that drives almost all the ants' activities and behaviours is the chemical one, but it is long acknowledged that the acoustic channel also plays an important role. However, very little is known regarding exploitation of the acoustical channel by myrmecophile parasites to infiltrate the ant society. Among social parasites, the ant nest beetles (Paussus) are obligate myrmecophiles able to move throughout the colony at will and prey on the ants, surprisingly never eliciting aggression from the colonies. It has been recently postulated that stridulatory organs in Paussus might be evolved as an acoustic mechanism to interact with ants. Here, we survey the role of acoustic signals employed in the Paussus beetle-Pheidole ant system. Ants parasitised by Paussus beetles produce caste-specific stridulations. We found that Paussus can "speak" three different "languages", each similar to sounds produced by different ant castes (workers, soldiers, queen). Playback experiments were used to test how host ants respond to the sounds emitted by Paussus. Our data suggest that, by mimicking the stridulations of the queen, Paussus is able to dupe the workers of its host and to be treated as royalty. This is the first report of acoustic mimicry in a beetle parasite of ants. PMID:26154266

  19. Role of social and individual experience in interaction of the meadow ant Formica pratensis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with ladybird imagines and hoverfly larvae.

    PubMed

    Novgorodova, Tatiana A

    2015-03-01

    The ability to recognize aphidophages is one of the key points in the protection ants provide aphids against their natural enemies. Behavior of honeydew collectors from nature ("field," control) and laboratory reared "naive" ants of Formica pratensis Retzius, which had never met either "mature" workers or aphids and aphidophages, was observed during their pairwise interactions with ladybird imagines and hoverfly larvae. The majority of the "naive" ants perceived ladybirds as an enemy at their first encounter attacking them immediately without any prior antennation. Ants seem to have a certain innate "enemy image" that lets them react very quickly to protect aphids. Hoverfly larvae were rarely attacked by both "field" and "naive" ants (>15%). During tests with ladybirds ants from nature attacked them and also demonstrated the most aggressive reactions (series of bites and "death grip") less frequently than the "naive" ants. The percentage of ants avoiding aphidophages after a contact with their chemical defense (reflex bleeding and glue-like saliva) was significantly higher in the control group. Whereas the "naive" ants did not learn to avoid danger, foragers from nature usually tried to avoid negative experience and used tactics of "short bites." Overall, experience has been proved to be unimportant for displaying key behavioral reactions underlying ant-ladybird interaction. However, accumulation of experience has been assumed to play an important role in the formation of behavioral strategy that allows honeydew collectors to drive aphidophages away with lower energy costs and avoid or minimize negative consequences of aphidophages' chemical defense. PMID:24729435

  20. Role of social and individual experience in interaction of the meadow ant Formica pratensis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with ladybird imagines and hoverfly larvae.

    PubMed

    Novgorodova, Tatiana A

    2015-03-01

    The ability to recognize aphidophages is one of the key points in the protection ants provide aphids against their natural enemies. Behavior of honeydew collectors from nature ("field," control) and laboratory reared "naive" ants of Formica pratensis Retzius, which had never met either "mature" workers or aphids and aphidophages, was observed during their pairwise interactions with ladybird imagines and hoverfly larvae. The majority of the "naive" ants perceived ladybirds as an enemy at their first encounter attacking them immediately without any prior antennation. Ants seem to have a certain innate "enemy image" that lets them react very quickly to protect aphids. Hoverfly larvae were rarely attacked by both "field" and "naive" ants (>15%). During tests with ladybirds ants from nature attacked them and also demonstrated the most aggressive reactions (series of bites and "death grip") less frequently than the "naive" ants. The percentage of ants avoiding aphidophages after a contact with their chemical defense (reflex bleeding and glue-like saliva) was significantly higher in the control group. Whereas the "naive" ants did not learn to avoid danger, foragers from nature usually tried to avoid negative experience and used tactics of "short bites." Overall, experience has been proved to be unimportant for displaying key behavioral reactions underlying ant-ladybird interaction. However, accumulation of experience has been assumed to play an important role in the formation of behavioral strategy that allows honeydew collectors to drive aphidophages away with lower energy costs and avoid or minimize negative consequences of aphidophages' chemical defense.

  1. Interaction between Workers during a Short Time Window Is Required for Bacterial Symbiont Transmission in Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Marsh, Sarah E.; Poulsen, Michael; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián; Currie, Cameron R.

    2014-01-01

    Stable associations between partners over time are critical for the evolution of mutualism. Hosts employ a variety of mechanisms to maintain specificity with bacterial associates. Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants farm a fungal cultivar as their primary nutrient source. These ants also carry a Pseudonocardia Actinobacteria exosymbiont on their bodies that produces antifungal compounds that help inhibit specialized parasites of the ants' fungal garden. Major workers emerge from their pupal cases (eclose) symbiont-free, but exhibit visible Actinobacterial coverage within 14 days post-eclosion. Using subcolony experiments, we investigate exosymbiont transmission within Acromyrmex colonies. We found successful transmission to newly eclosed major workers fostered by major workers with visible Actinobacteria in all cases (100% acquiring, n = 19). In contrast, newly eclosed major workers reared without exosymbiont-carrying major workers did not acquire visible Actinobacteria (0% acquiring, n = 73). We further show that the majority of ants exposed to major workers with exosymbionts within 2 hours of eclosion acquired bacteria (60.7% acquiring, n = 28), while normal acquisition did not occur when exposure occurred later than 2 hours post-eclosion (0% acquiring, n = 18). Our findings show that transmission of exosymbionts to newly eclosed major workers occurs through interactions with exosymbiont-covered workers within a narrow time window after eclosion. This mode of transmission likely helps ensure the defensive function within colonies, as well as specificity and partner fidelity in the ant-bacterium association. PMID:25058579

  2. Interaction between workers during a short time window is required for bacterial symbiont transmission in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Marsh, Sarah E; Poulsen, Michael; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián; Currie, Cameron R

    2014-01-01

    Stable associations between partners over time are critical for the evolution of mutualism. Hosts employ a variety of mechanisms to maintain specificity with bacterial associates. Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants farm a fungal cultivar as their primary nutrient source. These ants also carry a Pseudonocardia Actinobacteria exosymbiont on their bodies that produces antifungal compounds that help inhibit specialized parasites of the ants' fungal garden. Major workers emerge from their pupal cases (eclose) symbiont-free, but exhibit visible Actinobacterial coverage within 14 days post-eclosion. Using subcolony experiments, we investigate exosymbiont transmission within Acromyrmex colonies. We found successful transmission to newly eclosed major workers fostered by major workers with visible Actinobacteria in all cases (100% acquiring, n = 19). In contrast, newly eclosed major workers reared without exosymbiont-carrying major workers did not acquire visible Actinobacteria (0% acquiring, n = 73). We further show that the majority of ants exposed to major workers with exosymbionts within 2 hours of eclosion acquired bacteria (60.7% acquiring, n = 28), while normal acquisition did not occur when exposure occurred later than 2 hours post-eclosion (0% acquiring, n = 18). Our findings show that transmission of exosymbionts to newly eclosed major workers occurs through interactions with exosymbiont-covered workers within a narrow time window after eclosion. This mode of transmission likely helps ensure the defensive function within colonies, as well as specificity and partner fidelity in the ant-bacterium association. PMID:25058579

  3. Behavioural effects of juvenile hormone and their influence on division of labour in leaf-cutting ant societies.

    PubMed

    Norman, Victoria C; Hughes, William O H

    2016-01-01

    Division of labour in social insects represents a major evolutionary transition, but the physiological mechanisms that regulate this are still little understood. Experimental work with honey bees, and correlational analyses in other social insects, have implicated juvenile hormone (JH) as a regulatory factor, but direct experimental evidence of behavioural effects of JH in social insects is generally lacking. Here, we used experimental manipulation of JH to show that raised JH levels in leaf-cutting ants results in workers becoming more active, phototactic and threat responsive, and engaging in more extranidal activity - behavioural changes that we show are all characteristic of the transition from intranidal work to foraging. These behavioural effects on division of labour suggest that the JH mediation of behaviour occurs across multiple independent evolutions of eusociality, and may be a key endocrine regulator of the division of labour which has produced the remarkable ecological and evolutionary success of social insects. PMID:26739685

  4. Societies Drifting Apart? Behavioural, Genetic and Chemical Differentiation between Supercolonies in the Yellow Crazy Ant Anoplolepis gracilipes

    PubMed Central

    Drescher, Jochen; Blüthgen, Nico; Schmitt, Thomas; Bühler, Jana; Feldhaar, Heike

    2010-01-01

    Background In populations of most social insects, gene flow is maintained through mating between reproductive individuals from different colonies in periodic nuptial flights followed by dispersal of the fertilized foundresses. Some ant species, however, form large polygynous supercolonies, in which mating takes place within the maternal nest (intranidal mating) and fertilized queens disperse within or along the boundary of the supercolony, leading to supercolony growth (colony budding). As a consequence, gene flow is largely confined within supercolonies. Over time, such supercolonies may diverge genetically and, thus, also in recognition cues (cuticular hydrocarbons, CHC's) by a combination of genetic drift and accumulation of colony-specific, neutral mutations. Methodology/Principal Findings We tested this hypothesis for six supercolonies of the invasive ant Anoplolepis gracilipes in north-east Borneo. Within supercolonies, workers from different nests tolerated each other, were closely related and showed highly similar CHC profiles. Between supercolonies, aggression ranged from tolerance to mortal encounters and was negatively correlated with relatedness and CHC profile similarity. Supercolonies were genetically and chemically distinct, with mutually aggressive supercolony pairs sharing only 33.1%±17.5% (mean ± SD) of their alleles across six microsatellite loci and 73.8%±11.6% of the compounds in their CHC profile. Moreover, the proportion of alleles that differed between supercolony pairs was positively correlated to the proportion of qualitatively different CHC compounds. These qualitatively differing CHC compounds were found across various substance classes including alkanes, alkenes and mono-, di- and trimethyl-branched alkanes. Conclusions We conclude that positive feedback between genetic, chemical and behavioural traits may further enhance supercolony differentiation through genetic drift and neutral evolution, and may drive colonies towards different

  5. Climate, fishery and society interactions: Observations from the North Atlantic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hamilton, Lawrence C.

    2007-11-01

    Interdisciplinary studies comparing fisheries-dependent regions across the North Atlantic find a number of broad patterns. Large ecological shifts, disastrous to historical fisheries, have resulted when unfavorable climatic events occur atop overfishing. The "teleconnections" linking fisheries crises across long distances include human technology and markets, as well as climate or migratory fish species. Overfishing and climate-driven changes have led to a shift downwards in trophic levels of fisheries takes in some ecosystems, from dominance by bony fish to crustaceans. Fishing societies adapt to new ecological conditions through social reorganization that have benefited some people and places, while leaving others behind. Characteristic patterns of demographic change are among the symptoms of such reorganization. These general observations emerge from a review of recent case studies of individual fishing communities, such as those conducted for the North Atlantic Arc research project.

  6. Unusual animal-plant interaction: Feeding of Schomburgkia tibicinis (Orchidaceae) by ants

    SciTech Connect

    Rico-Gray, V. ); Barber, J.T.; Thien, L.B.; Ellgaard, E.G.; Toney, J.J. )

    1989-04-01

    The hollow pseudobulbs of Schomburgkia tibicinis (Orchidaceae; Central America) serve as domatia for many species of ants. The ants pack many of the pseudobulbs with debris including dead insects, plant material, and sand. Ants were fed {sup 14}C-labelled D-glucose in honey, killed, and placed in the pseudobulbs for up to eight weeks. Samples of plant tissue were harvested and tested for radioactivity after 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 weeks. The labelled material had moved into various parts of the plant and demonstrated direct nutrient uptake.

  7. Modeling the Interactions between Hydrological Extremes, Water Management and Society.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martinez, Fabian; Di Baldassarre, Giuliano; Kalantari, Zahra

    2016-04-01

    Over the past years, several studies have focused on exploring human impacts on the hydrological regime. Even though the dominant hydrological processes are mostly well understood, there are still several challenges related to modeling the coevolution of human impacts on (and responses to) hydrological extremes, such as floods and droughts. Some initial modeling attempts have proved to capture the essential dynamics emerging from two-way feedbacks between hydrological and social processes. However, they have predominantly focused on flooding. This research aims to develop a new conceptual model unraveling the interplay between hydrological extremes (floods and droughts) and human societies in a changing climate. In particular, this socio-hydrological model aims at understanding, and predicting the dynamics of coupled human-water systems to explain and capture how the occurrence of hydrological extremes changes water management approach, and how such a change (in turn) mitigates the impacts of hydrological extremes. The conceptual model is then applied to a case study to test its ability in simulating the dynamics emerging from the interplay between hydrological and social processes.

  8. Farm animal welfare research in interaction with society.

    PubMed

    Blokhuis, H J; Ekkel, E D; Korte, S M; Hopster, H; van Reenen, C G

    2000-10-01

    Over the last 30 years concern about farm animal welfare has increased and has become a public issue in the Netherlands. Public discussion has stimulated research in this field, financed by both government and industry. Dutch society in general and consumers of animal products in particular, want to see high standards of welfare for production animals. Good animal welfare has gradually gained more impact in the total quality concept of the product. This will encourage scientists to continue to analyse the welfare status of animals and to come up with innovative solutions for the remaining problems. At ID-Lelystad much effort is put into farm animal welfare research. This research includes for example, the development of behavioural tests for quantifying and interpreting fear in cattle, investigations into the effects of dietary iron supply and a lack of roughage on behaviour, immunology, stress physiology, and pathology in veal calves, studies of the ontogeny of tail biting in finishing pigs and feather pecking in laying hens as well as evaluation of the welfare effects of automatic milking in dairy cows. The results of these projects contribute to concrete improvements in animal husbandry and expertise and support policy making and legislation. The animal industry as well as retailers should aim at the further implementation of this knowledge and to specify welfare standards to guarantee consumer acceptance of animal production. PMID:11087134

  9. Rotating panoramic view: interaction between visual and olfactory cues in ants

    PubMed Central

    Minoura, Mai; Sonoda, Kohei; Sakiyama, Tomoko; Gunji, Yukio-Pegio

    2016-01-01

    Insects use a navigational toolkit consisting of multiple strategies such as path integration, view-dependent recognition methods and olfactory cues. The question arises as to how directional cues afforded by a visual panorama combine with olfactory cues from a pheromone trail to guide ants towards their nest. We positioned a garden ant Lasius niger on a rotating table, whereon a segment of a pheromone trail relative to the stationary panorama was rotated while the ant walked along the trail towards its nest. The rotational speed of the table (3 r.p.m.) was set so that the table would rotate through about 90° by the time that an ant had walked from the start to the centre of the table. The ant completed a U-turn at about this point and so travelled in a nest-ward direction without leaving the trail. These results suggest that the ants persist on the pheromone trail and use visual input to determine their direction of travel along the trail. PMID:26909169

  10. Unwritten rules: virtual bargaining underpins social interaction, culture, and society.

    PubMed

    Misyak, Jennifer B; Melkonyan, Tigran; Zeitoun, Hossam; Chater, Nick

    2014-10-01

    Many social interactions require humans to coordinate their behavior across a range of scales. However, aspects of intentional coordination remain puzzling from within several approaches in cognitive science. Sketching a new perspective, we propose that the complex behavioral patterns - or 'unwritten rules' - governing such coordination emerge from an ongoing process of 'virtual bargaining'. Social participants behave on the basis of what they would agree to do if they were explicitly to bargain, provided the agreement that would arise from such discussion is commonly known. Although intuitively simple, this interpretation has implications for understanding a broad spectrum of social, economic, and cultural phenomena (including joint action, team reasoning, communication, and language) that, we argue, depend fundamentally on the virtual bargains themselves. PMID:25073460

  11. Population Responses to Environmental Change in a Tropical Ant: The Interaction of Spatial and Temporal Dynamics

    PubMed Central

    Jackson, Doug; Vandermeer, John; Perfecto, Ivette; Philpott, Stacy M.

    2014-01-01

    Spatial structure can have a profound, but often underappreciated, effect on the temporal dynamics of ecosystems. Here we report on a counterintuitive increase in the population of a tree-nesting ant, Azteca sericeasur, in response to a drastic reduction in the number of potential nesting sites. This surprising result is comprehensible when viewed in the context of the self-organized spatial dynamics of the ants and their effect on the ants’ dispersal-limited natural enemies. Approximately 30% of the trees in the study site, a coffee agroecosystem in southern Mexico, were pruned or felled over a two-year period, and yet the abundance of the ant nests more than doubled over the seven-year study. Throughout the transition, the spatial distribution of the ants maintained a power-law distribution – a signal of spatial self organization – but the local clustering of the nests was reduced post-pruning. A cellular automata model incorporating the changed spatial structure of the ants and the resulting partial escape from antagonists reproduced the observed increase in abundance, highlighting how self-organized spatial dynamics can profoundly influence the responses of ecosystems to perturbations. PMID:24842117

  12. Antagonistic Interactions between the African Weaver Ant Oecophylla longinoda and the Parasitoid Anagyrus pseudococci Potentially Limits Suppression of the Invasive Mealybug Rastrococcus iceryoides

    PubMed Central

    Tanga, Chrysantus M.; Ekesi, Sunday; Govender, Prem; Nderitu, Peterson W.; Mohamed, Samira A.

    2015-01-01

    The ant Oecophylla longinoda Latreille forms a trophobiotic relationship with the invasive mealybug Rastrococus iceryoides Green and promotes the latter’s infestations to unacceptable levels in the presence of their natural enemies. In this regard, the antagonistic interactions between the ant and the parasitoid Anagyrus pseudococci Girault were assessed under laboratory conditions. The percentage of parasitism of R. iceryoides by A. pseudococci was significantly higher on “ant-excluded” treatments (86.6% ± 1.27%) compared to “ant-tended” treatments (51.4% ± 4.13%). The low female-biased sex-ratio observed in the “ant-tended” treatment can be attributed to ants’ interference during the oviposition phase, which disrupted parasitoids’ ability to fertilize eggs. The mean foraging time, host handling time and number of successful oviposition in “ant-excluded” treatment were significantly higher compared to “ant-tended” treatments. When ant workers were allowed access to sterilized sand grains, mummified and unmummified R. iceryoides, they selectively removed the mummified mealybugs, indicating that they recognized the mummies as potential foods (1.2 ± 0.46 to 7.8 ± 1.17 mummies at 10 min intervals for 2 h). Percentage emergence from mummified R. iceryoides removed by the ants was significantly lower compared to emergence from mummies not exposed to ants. Although, host seeking parasitoids frequently evaded attacks, some were killed by the foraging ant workers (2.0 ± 0.38 to 6.0 ± 0.88 at 10 min intervals for 2 h). These results suggest for the first time that the presence of O. longinoda has a detrimental effect on the abundance, reproductive success and possibly oviposition strategy of female parasitoids, which might be a delimiting factor in field conditions if both natural enemies are to be recommended for use within the same agro-ecosystem. PMID:26703741

  13. A Novel Type of Nutritional Ant–Plant Interaction: Ant Partners of Carnivorous Pitcher Plants Prevent Nutrient Export by Dipteran Pitcher Infauna

    PubMed Central

    Scharmann, Mathias; Thornham, Daniel G.; Grafe, T. Ulmar; Federle, Walter

    2013-01-01

    Many plants combat herbivore and pathogen attack indirectly by attracting predators of their herbivores. Here we describe a novel type of insect–plant interaction where a carnivorous plant uses such an indirect defence to prevent nutrient loss to kleptoparasites. The ant Camponotus schmitzi is an obligate inhabitant of the carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes bicalcarata in Borneo. It has recently been suggested that this ant–plant interaction is a nutritional mutualism, but the detailed mechanisms and the origin of the ant-derived nutrient supply have remained unexplained. We confirm that N. bicalcarata host plant leaves naturally have an elevated 15N/14N stable isotope abundance ratio (δ15N) when colonised by C. schmitzi. This indicates that a higher proportion of the plants’ nitrogen is insect-derived when C. schmitzi ants are present (ca. 100%, vs. 77% in uncolonised plants) and that more nitrogen is available to them. We demonstrated direct flux of nutrients from the ants to the host plant in a 15N pulse-chase experiment. As C. schmitzi ants only feed on nectar and pitcher contents of their host, the elevated foliar δ15N cannot be explained by classic ant-feeding (myrmecotrophy) but must originate from a higher efficiency of the pitcher traps. We discovered that C. schmitzi ants not only increase the pitchers' capture efficiency by keeping the pitchers’ trapping surfaces clean, but they also reduce nutrient loss from the pitchers by predating dipteran pitcher inhabitants (infauna). Consequently, nutrients the pitchers would have otherwise lost via emerging flies become available as ant colony waste. The plants’ prey is therefore conserved by the ants. The interaction between C. schmitzi, N. bicalcarata and dipteran pitcher infauna represents a new type of mutualism where animals mitigate the damage by nutrient thieves to a plant. PMID:23717446

  14. Bottom-up effects of host-plant species diversity and top-down effects of ants interactively increase plant performance.

    PubMed

    Moreira, Xoaquín; Mooney, Kailen A; Zas, Rafael; Sampedro, Luis

    2012-11-01

    While plant diversity is well known to increase primary productivity, whether these bottom-up effects are enhanced by reciprocal top-down effects from the third trophic level is unknown. We studied whether pine tree species diversity, aphid-tending ants and their interaction determined plant performance and arthropod community structure. Plant diversity had a positive effect on aphids, but only in the presence of mutualistic ants, leading to a threefold greater number of both groups in the tri-specific cultures than in monocultures. Plant diversity increased ant abundance not only by increasing aphid number, but also by increasing ant recruitment per aphid. The positive effect of diversity on ants in turn cascaded down to increase plant performance; diversity increased plant growth (but not biomass), and this effect was stronger in the presence of ants. Consequently, bottom-up effects of diversity within the same genus and guild of plants, and top-down effects from the third trophic level (predatory ants), interactively increased plant performance.

  15. Interactions of the polarization and the sun compass in path integration of desert ants.

    PubMed

    Lebhardt, Fleur; Ronacher, Bernhard

    2014-08-01

    Desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, perform large-scale foraging trips in their featureless habitat using path integration as their main navigation tool. To determine their walking direction they use primarily celestial cues, the sky's polarization pattern and the sun position. To examine the relative importance of these two celestial cues, we performed cue conflict experiments. We manipulated the polarization pattern experienced by the ants during their outbound foraging excursions, reducing it to a single electric field (e-)vector direction with a linear polarization filter. The simultaneous view of the sun created situations in which the directional information of the sun and the polarization compass disagreed. The heading directions of the homebound runs recorded on a test field with full view of the natural sky demonstrate that none of both compasses completely dominated over the other. Rather the ants seemed to compute an intermediate homing direction to which both compass systems contributed roughly equally. Direct sunlight and polarized light are detected in different regions of the ant's compound eye, suggesting two separate pathways for obtaining directional information. In the experimental paradigm applied here, these two pathways seem to feed into the path integrator with similar weights.

  16. Honey Ants.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Conway, John R.

    1984-01-01

    Provides background information on honey ants. These ants are found in dry or desert regions of North America, Africa, and Australia. Also provides a list of activities using local species of ants. (JN)

  17. The first record of a fly of the family Milichiidae (Diptera) interacting with an ant of the genus Polyrhachis Smith, 1857 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

    PubMed Central

    Fayle, Tom Maurice

    2014-01-01

    Abstract Flies in the family Milichiidae are often myrmecophilic. We document the first record of a fly from this family interacting with an ant of the genus Polyrhachis. In lowland riparian rainforest in Sabah, Malaysia, we observed a female of the genus Milichia following an ant of the species of P. illaudata, and repeatedly attempting to make close contact. Our observation suggests that the dipteran may have been attempting to feed kleptoparasitically from the Polyrhachis worker, since members of this ant genus often feed on liquid carbohydrate-rich food resources. This is the first time an interaction has been observed between a fly of this family and an ant of this widespread old world tropical genus. PMID:25425942

  18. Multilingual Interaction and Minority Languages: Proficiency and Language Practices in Education and Society

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gorter, Durk

    2015-01-01

    In this plenary speech I examine multilingual interaction in a number of European regions in which minority languages are being revitalized. Education is a crucial variable, but the wider society is equally significant. The context of revitalization is no longer bilingual but increasingly multilingual. I draw on the results of a long-running…

  19. Acoustical mimicry in a predatory social parasite of ants.

    PubMed

    Barbero, F; Bonelli, S; Thomas, J A; Balletto, E; Schönrogge, K

    2009-12-01

    Rapid, effective communication between colony members is a key attribute that enables ants to live in dominant, fiercely protected societies. Their signals, however, may be mimicked by other insects that coexist as commensals with ants or interact with them as mutualists or social parasites. We consider the role of acoustics in ant communication and its exploitation by social parasites. Social parasitism has been studied mainly in the butterfly genus Maculinea, the final instar larvae of which are host-specific parasites of Myrmica ants, preying either on ant grubs (predatory Maculinea) or being fed by trophallaxis (cuckoo Maculinea). We found similar significant differences between the stridulations of model queen and worker ant castes in both Myrmica sabuleti and Myrmica scabrinodis to that previously reported for Myrmica schencki. However, the sounds made by queens of all three Myrmica species were indistinguishable, and among workers, stridulations did not differ significantly in two of three species-pairs tested. Sounds recorded from the predatory caterpillars and pupae of Maculinea arion had similar or closer patterns to the acoustics of their host Myrmica sabuleti than those previously reported for the cuckoo Maculinea rebeli and its host Myrmica schencki, even though Maculinea rebeli caterpillars live more intimately with their host. We conclude that chemical mimicry enables Maculinea larvae to be accepted as colony members by worker ants, but that caterpillars and pupae of both predatory and cuckoo butterflies employ acoustical mimicry of queen ant calls to elevate their status towards the highest attainable position within their host's social hierarchy. PMID:19946088

  20. Interactions with combined chemical cues inform harvester ant foragers' decisions to leave the nest in search of food.

    PubMed

    Greene, Michael J; Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Gordon, Deborah M

    2013-01-01

    Social insect colonies operate without central control or any global assessment of what needs to be done by workers. Colony organization arises from the responses of individuals to local cues. Red harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) regulate foraging using interactions between returning and outgoing foragers. The rate at which foragers return with seeds, a measure of food availability, sets the rate at which outgoing foragers leave the nest on foraging trips. We used mimics to test whether outgoing foragers inside the nest respond to the odor of food, oleic acid, the odor of the forager itself, cuticular hydrocarbons, or a combination of both with increased foraging activity. We compared foraging activity, the rate at which foragers passed a line on a trail, before and after the addition of mimics. The combination of both odors, those of food and of foragers, is required to stimulate foraging. The addition of blank mimics, mimics coated with food odor alone, or mimics coated with forager odor alone did not increase foraging activity. We compared the rates at which foragers inside the nest interacted with other ants, blank mimics, and mimics coated with a combination of food and forager odor. Foragers inside the nest interacted more with mimics coated with combined forager/seed odors than with blank mimics, and these interactions had the same effect as those with other foragers. Outgoing foragers inside the nest entrance are stimulated to leave the nest in search of food by interacting with foragers returning with seeds. By using the combined odors of forager cuticular hydrocarbons and of seeds, the colony captures precise information, on the timescale of seconds, about the current availability of food.

  1. Ant-Plant Interaction in a Tropical Savanna: May the Network Structure Vary over Time and Influence on the Outcomes of Associations?

    PubMed Central

    Lange, Denise; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2014-01-01

    Plant-animal interactions occur in a community context of dynamic and complex ecological interactive networks. The understanding of who interacts with whom is a basic information, but the outcomes of interactions among associates are fundamental to draw valid conclusions about the functional structure of the network. Ecological networks studies in general gave little importance to know the true outcomes of interactions and how they may change over time. We evaluate the dynamic of an interaction network between ants and plants with extrafloral nectaries, by verifying the temporal variation in structure and outcomes of mutualism for the plant community (leaf herbivory). To reach this goal, we used two tools: bipartite network analysis and experimental manipulation. The networks exhibited the same general pattern as other mutualistic networks: nestedness, asymmetry and low specialization and this pattern was maintained over time, but with internal changes (species degree, connectance and ant abundance). These changes influenced the protection effectiveness of plants by ants, which varied over time. Our study shows that interaction networks between ants and plants are dynamic over time, and that these alterations affect the outcomes of mutualisms. In addition, our study proposes that the set of single systems that shape ecological networks can be manipulated for a greater understanding of the entire system. PMID:25141007

  2. Report on "Methodologies for Investigating Microbial-Mineral Interactions: A Clay Minerals Society Short Course"

    SciTech Connect

    Maurice, Patricia A.

    2010-02-08

    A workshop entitled, “Methods of Investigating Microbial-Mineral Interactions,” was held at the Clay Minerals Society meeting at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA on June 19, 2004. The workshop was organized by Patricia A. Maurice (University of Notre Dame) and Lesley A. Warren (McMaster University, CA). Speakers included: Dr. P. Bennett, Dr. J. Fredrickson (PNNL), Dr. S. Lower (Ohio State University), Dr. P. Maurice, Dr. S. Myneni (Princeton University), Dr. E. Shock (Arizona State), Dr. M. Tien (Penn State), Dr. L. Warren, and Dr. J. Zachara (PNNL). There were approximately 75 attendees at the workshop, including more than 20 students. A workshop volume was published by the Clay Minerals Society [Methods for Study of Microbe-Mineral Interactions (2006), CMS Workshop Lectures, vol 14(Patricia A. Maurice and Leslie A. Warren, eds.) ISBN 978-1-881208-15-0, 166 pp.

  3. The Pied Piper: A Parasitic Beetle’s Melodies Modulate Ant Behaviours

    PubMed Central

    Di Giulio, Andrea; Maurizi, Emanuela; Barbero, Francesca; Sala, Marco; Fattorini, Simone; Balletto, Emilio; Bonelli, Simona

    2015-01-01

    Ants use various communication channels to regulate their social organisation. The main channel that drives almost all the ants’ activities and behaviours is the chemical one, but it is long acknowledged that the acoustic channel also plays an important role. However, very little is known regarding exploitation of the acoustical channel by myrmecophile parasites to infiltrate the ant society. Among social parasites, the ant nest beetles (Paussus) are obligate myrmecophiles able to move throughout the colony at will and prey on the ants, surprisingly never eliciting aggression from the colonies. It has been recently postulated that stridulatory organs in Paussus might be evolved as an acoustic mechanism to interact with ants. Here, we survey the role of acoustic signals employed in the Paussus beetle-Pheidole ant system. Ants parasitised by Paussus beetles produce caste-specific stridulations. We found that Paussus can “speak” three different “languages”, each similar to sounds produced by different ant castes (workers, soldiers, queen). Playback experiments were used to test how host ants respond to the sounds emitted by Paussus. Our data suggest that, by mimicking the stridulations of the queen, Paussus is able to dupe the workers of its host and to be treated as royalty. This is the first report of acoustic mimicry in a beetle parasite of ants. PMID:26154266

  4. Dynamic changes in host-virus interactions associated with colony founding and social environment in fire ant queens (Solenopsis invicta).

    PubMed

    Manfredini, Fabio; Shoemaker, DeWayne; Grozinger, Christina M

    2016-01-01

    The dynamics of host-parasite interactions can change dramatically over the course of a chronic infection as the internal (physiological) and external (environmental) conditions of the host change. When queens of social insects found a colony, they experience changes in both their physiological state (they develop their ovaries and begin laying eggs) and the social environment (they suddenly stop interacting with the other members of the mother colony), making this an excellent model system for examining how these factors interact with chronic infections. We investigated the dynamics of host-viral interactions in queens of Solenopsis invicta (fire ant) as they transition from mating to colony founding/brood rearing to the emergence of the first workers. We examined these dynamics in naturally infected queens in two different social environments, where queens either founded colonies as individuals or as pairs. We hypothesized that stress associated with colony founding plays an important role in the dynamics of host-parasite interactions. We also hypothesized that different viruses have different modalities of interaction with the host that can be quantified by physiological measures and genomic analysis of gene expression in the host. We found that the two most prevalent viruses, SINV-1 and SINV-2, are associated with different fitness costs that are mirrored by different patterns of gene expression in the host. In fact SINV-2, the virus that imposes the significant reduction of a queen's reproductive output is also associated with larger changes of global gene expression in the host. These results show the complexity of interactions between S. invicta and two viral parasites. Our findings also show that chronic infections by viral parasites in insects are dynamic processes that may pose different challenges in the host, laying the groundwork for interesting ecological and evolutionary considerations. PMID:26811788

  5. BEHAVIORAL INTERACTIONS OF THE BLACK IMPORTED FIRE ANT (SOLENOPSIS RICHTERI FOREL) AND ITS PARASITOID FLY (PSEUDACTEON CURVATUS BORGMEIER) AS REVEALED BY HIGH-SPEED VIDEO.

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    High-speed video recordings were used to study the interactions between the phorid fly (Pseudacteon curvatus), and the black imported fire ant (Solenopsis richteri) in the field. Phorid flies are extremely fast agile fliers that can hover and fly in all directions. Wingbeat frequency recorded with...

  6. Temporal patterns of diversity: Assessing the biotic and abiotic controls on ant assemblages

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dunn, R.R.; Parker, C.R.; Sanders, N.J.

    2007-01-01

    In this study, we use 12 months of data from 11 ant assemblages to test whether seasonal variation in ant diversity is governed by either the structuring influences of interspecific competition or environmental conditions. Because the importance of competition might vary along environmental gradients, we also test whether the signature of competition depends on elevation. We find little evidence that competition structures the seasonal patterns of activity in the ant assemblages considered, but find support for the effects of temperature on seasonal patterns of diversity, especially at low-elevation sites. Although, in general, both competition and the environment interact to structure ant assemblages, our results suggest that environmental conditions are the primary force structuring the seasonal activity of the ant assemblages studied here. ?? 2007 The Linnean Society of London.

  7. Sick ants become unsociable.

    PubMed

    Bos, N; Lefèvre, T; Jensen, A B; d'Ettorre, P

    2012-02-01

    Parasites represent a severe threat to social insects, which form high-density colonies of related individuals, and selection should favour host traits that reduce infection risk. Here, using a carpenter ant (Camponotus aethiops) and a generalist insect pathogenic fungus (Metarhizium brunneum), we show that infected ants radically change their behaviour over time to reduce the risk of colony infection. Infected individuals (i) performed less social interactions than their uninfected counterparts, (ii) did not interact with brood anymore and (iii) spent most of their time outside the nest from day 3 post-infection until death. Furthermore, infected ants displayed an increased aggressiveness towards non-nestmates. Finally, infected ants did not alter their cuticular chemical profile, suggesting that infected individuals do not signal their physiological status to nestmates. Our results provide evidence for the evolution of unsociability following pathogen infection in a social animal and suggest an important role of inclusive fitness in driving such evolution.

  8. Sick ants become unsociable.

    PubMed

    Bos, N; Lefèvre, T; Jensen, A B; d'Ettorre, P

    2012-02-01

    Parasites represent a severe threat to social insects, which form high-density colonies of related individuals, and selection should favour host traits that reduce infection risk. Here, using a carpenter ant (Camponotus aethiops) and a generalist insect pathogenic fungus (Metarhizium brunneum), we show that infected ants radically change their behaviour over time to reduce the risk of colony infection. Infected individuals (i) performed less social interactions than their uninfected counterparts, (ii) did not interact with brood anymore and (iii) spent most of their time outside the nest from day 3 post-infection until death. Furthermore, infected ants displayed an increased aggressiveness towards non-nestmates. Finally, infected ants did not alter their cuticular chemical profile, suggesting that infected individuals do not signal their physiological status to nestmates. Our results provide evidence for the evolution of unsociability following pathogen infection in a social animal and suggest an important role of inclusive fitness in driving such evolution. PMID:22122288

  9. Interaction and cooperative effort among scientific societies. Twelve years of COSCE.

    PubMed

    Martín, Nazario; Andradas, Carlos

    2015-12-01

    The evolution of knowledge and technology in recent decades has brought profound changes in science policy, not only in the countries but also in the supranational organizations. It has been necessary, therefore, to adapt the scientific institutions to new models in order to achieve a greater and better communication between them and the political counterparts responsible for defining the general framework of relations between science and society. The Federationon of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE, Confederación de Sociedades Científicas de España) was founded in October 2003 to respond to the urgent need to interact with the political institutions and foster a better orientation in the process of making decisions about the science policy. Currently COSCE consists of over 70 Spanish scientific societies and more than 40,000 scientists. During its twelve years of active life, COSCE has developed an intense work of awareness of the real situation of science in Spain by launching several initiatives (some of which have joined other organizations) or by joining initiatives proposed from other groups related to science both at the Spanish level and at the European and non-European scenarios. [Int Microbiol 18(4): 245-251 (2015)]. PMID:27611677

  10. Interaction and cooperative effort among scientific societies. Twelve years of COSCE.

    PubMed

    Martín, Nazario; Andradas, Carlos

    2015-12-01

    The evolution of knowledge and technology in recent decades has brought profound changes in science policy, not only in the countries but also in the supranational organizations. It has been necessary, therefore, to adapt the scientific institutions to new models in order to achieve a greater and better communication between them and the political counterparts responsible for defining the general framework of relations between science and society. The Federationon of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE, Confederación de Sociedades Científicas de España) was founded in October 2003 to respond to the urgent need to interact with the political institutions and foster a better orientation in the process of making decisions about the science policy. Currently COSCE consists of over 70 Spanish scientific societies and more than 40,000 scientists. During its twelve years of active life, COSCE has developed an intense work of awareness of the real situation of science in Spain by launching several initiatives (some of which have joined other organizations) or by joining initiatives proposed from other groups related to science both at the Spanish level and at the European and non-European scenarios. [Int Microbiol 18(4): 245-251 (2015)].

  11. 'Bio-nano interactions: new tools, insights and impacts': summary of the Royal Society discussion meeting.

    PubMed

    Lynch, Iseult; Feitshans, Ilise L; Kendall, Michaela

    2015-02-01

    Bio-nano interactions can be defined as the study of interactions between nanoscale entities and biological systems such as, but not limited to, peptides, proteins, lipids, DNA and other biomolecules, cells and cellular receptors and organisms including humans. Studying bio-nano interactions is particularly useful for understanding engineered materials that have at least one dimension in the nanoscale. Such materials may consist of discrete particles or nanostructured surfaces. Much of biology functions at the nanoscale; therefore, our ability to manipulate materials such that they are taken up at the nanoscale, and engage biological machinery in a designed and purposeful manner, opens new vistas for more efficient diagnostics, therapeutics (treatments) and tissue regeneration, so-called nanomedicine. Additionally, this ability of nanomaterials to interact with and be taken up by cells allows nanomaterials to be used as probes and tools to advance our understanding of cellular functioning. Yet, as a new technology, assessment of the safety of nanomaterials, and the applicability of existing regulatory frameworks for nanomaterials must be investigated in parallel with development of novel applications. The Royal Society meeting 'Bio-nano interactions: new tools, insights and impacts' provided an important platform for open dialogue on the current state of knowledge on these issues, bringing together scientists, industry, regulatory and legal experts to concretize existing discourse in science law and policy. This paper summarizes these discussions and the insights that emerged.

  12. Ant Tower

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mlot, Nathan; Shinotsuka, Sho; Hu, David

    2010-11-01

    Ants walk via adhesive drops of fluid extruded by their feet. They also use these drops as mortar to build structures such as rafts, bridges and towers, each composed of thousands of ants linked together. We investigate experimentally the construction of triangular ant towers braced by hydrophobic walls. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between tower height and contact angle hysteresis of the wall. We rationalize tower height according to ant adhesion, and tower shape according to the constraints on a column of constant strength.

  13. Biotic and abiotic controls of argentine ant invasion success at local and landscape scales

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Menke, S.B.; Fisher, R.N.; Jetz, W.; Holway, D.A.

    2007-01-01

    Although the ecological success of introduced species hinges on biotic interactions and physical conditions, few experimental studies - especially on animals - have simultaneously investigated the relative importance of both types of factors. The lack of such research may stem from the common assumption that native and introduced species exhibit similar environmental tolerances. Here we combine experimental and spatial modeling approaches (1) to determine the relative importance of biotic and abiotic controls of Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) invasion success, (2) to examine how the importance of these factors changes with spatial scale in southern California (USA), and (3) to assess how Argentine ants differ from native ants in their environmental tolerances. A factorial field experiment that combined native ant removal with irrigation revealed that Argentine ants failed to invade any dry plots (even those lacking native ants) but readily invaded all moist plots. Native ants slowed the spread of Argentine ants into irrigated plots but did not prevent invasion. In areas without Argentine ants, native ant species showed variable responses to irrigation. At the landscape scale, Argentine ant occurrence was positively correlated with minimum winter temperature (but not precipitation), whereas native ant diversity increased with precipitation and was negatively correlated with minimum winter temperature. These results are of interest for several reasons. First, they demonstrate that fine-scale differences in the physical environment can eclipse biotic resistance from native competitors in determining community susceptibility to invasion. Second, our results illustrate surprising complexities with respect to how the abiotic factors limiting invasion can change with spatial scale, and third, how native and invasive species can differ in their responses to the physical environment. Idiosyncratic and scale-dependent processes complicate attempts to forecast where

  14. Interaction between the Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel and the Argentine ant in Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Krushelnycky, Paul D.; Hodges, Cathleen S.N.; Medeiros, Arthur C.; Loope, Lloyd L.

    2001-01-01

    The endemic biota of the Hawaiian islands is believed to have evolved in the absence of ant predation. However, it was suspected that this endemic biota is highly vulnerable to the effect of immigrant ants especially with regard to an aggressive predator known as the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). First recorded in the Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui in 1967, this ant was believed to have reduced populations of native arthropods in high-elevation subalpine shrublands. In addition, concerns were raised that this immigrant ant may have also reduced the breeding success of the endangered Hawaiian Dark-rumped Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia sandwichensis), a native seabird. If so, then it was believe that this ant could become another major threat to the survival of this endangered seabird in addition to the threat that was caused by the introduction of introduced mammals, the advent of hunting by the Polynesians, and a loss of breeding habitat. As a result, the purpose of this study was to determine if the Argentine ant affects the nesting success of this native Hawaiian seabird.

  15. Idiosyncratic route-based memories in desert ants, Melophorus bagoti: how do they interact with path-integration vectors?

    PubMed

    Kohler, Martin; Wehner, Rüdiger

    2005-01-01

    Individually foraging desert ants of central Australia, Melophorus bagoti, exhibit amazingly precise mechanisms of visual landmark guidance when navigating through cluttered environments. If trained to shuttle back and forth between the nest and a feeder, they establish habitual outbound and inbound routes, which guide them idiosyncratically across the natural maze of extended arrays of grass tussocks covering their foraging areas. The route-based memories that usually differ between outbound and inbound runs are acquired already during the first runs to the nest and feeder. If the ants are displaced sideways of their habitual routes, they can enter their stereotyped routes at any place and then follow these routes with the same accuracy as if they had started at the usual point of departure. Furthermore, the accuracy of maintaining a route does not depend on whether homebound ants have been captured at the feeder shortly before starting their home run and, hence, with their home vector still fully available (full-vector ants), or whether they have been captured at the nest after they had already completed their home run (zero-vector ants). Hence, individual landmark memories can be retrieved independently of the state of the path-integration vector with which they have been associated during the acquisition phase of learning. However, the ants display their path-integration vector when displaced from the feeder to unfamiliar territory.

  16. Mechanics of fire ant aggregations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tennenbaum, Michael; Liu, Zhongyang; Hu, David; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto

    2016-01-01

    Fire ants link their bodies to form aggregations; these can adopt a variety of structures, they can drip and spread, or withstand applied loads. Here, by using oscillatory rheology, we show that fire ant aggregations are viscoelastic. We find that, at the lowest ant densities probed and in the linear regime, the elastic and viscous moduli are essentially identical over the spanned frequency range, which highlights the absence of a dominant mode of structural relaxation. As ant density increases, the elastic modulus rises, which we interpret by alluding to ant crowding and subsequent jamming. When deformed beyond the linear regime, the aggregation flows, exhibiting shear-thinning behaviour with a stress load that is comparable to the maximum load the aggregation can withstand before individual ants are torn apart. Our findings illustrate the rich, collective mechanical behaviour that can arise in aggregations of active, interacting building blocks.

  17. Mechanics of fire ant aggregations.

    PubMed

    Tennenbaum, Michael; Liu, Zhongyang; Hu, David; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto

    2016-01-01

    Fire ants link their bodies to form aggregations; these can adopt a variety of structures, they can drip and spread, or withstand applied loads. Here, by using oscillatory rheology, we show that fire ant aggregations are viscoelastic. We find that, at the lowest ant densities probed and in the linear regime, the elastic and viscous moduli are essentially identical over the spanned frequency range, which highlights the absence of a dominant mode of structural relaxation. As ant density increases, the elastic modulus rises, which we interpret by alluding to ant crowding and subsequent jamming. When deformed beyond the linear regime, the aggregation flows, exhibiting shear-thinning behaviour with a stress load that is comparable to the maximum load the aggregation can withstand before individual ants are torn apart. Our findings illustrate the rich, collective mechanical behaviour that can arise in aggregations of active, interacting building blocks. PMID:26501413

  18. Do aphids actively search for ant partners?

    PubMed

    Fischer, Christophe Y; Vanderplanck, Maryse; Lognay, Georges C; Detrain, Claire; Verheggen, François J

    2015-04-01

    The aphid-ant mutualistic relationships are not necessarily obligate for neither partners but evidence is that such interactions provide them strong advantages in terms of global fitness. While it is largely assumed that ants actively search for their mutualistic partners namely using volatile cues; whether winged aphids (i.e., aphids' most mobile form) are able to select ant-frequented areas had not been investigated so far. Ant-frequented sites would indeed offer several advantages for these aphids including a lower predation pressure through ant presence and enhanced chances of establishing mutuaslistic interactions with neighbor ant colonies. In the field, aphid colonies are often observed in higher densities around ant nests, which is probably linked to a better survival ensured by ants' services. Nevertheless, this could also result from a preferential establishment of winged aphids in ant-frequented areas. We tested this last hypothesis through different ethological assays and show that the facultative myrmecophilous black bean aphid, Aphis fabae L., does not orientate its search for a host plant preferentially toward ant-frequented plants. However, our results suggest that ants reduce the number of winged aphids leaving the newly colonized plant. Thus, ants involved in facultative myrmecophilous interactions with aphids appear to contribute to structure aphid populations in the field by ensuring a better establishment and survival of newly established colonies rather than by inducing a deliberate plant selection by aphid partners based on the proximity of ant colonies.

  19. Interactions between extrafloral nectaries, aphids and ants: are there competition effects between plant and homopteran sugar sources?

    PubMed

    Engel, V; Fischer, M K; Wäckers, F L; Völkl, W

    2001-12-01

    Broad bean (Vicia faba), an annual plant bearing extrafloral nectaries (EFN) at the base of the upper leaves, is regularly infested by two aphid species, Aphis fabae and Acyrthosiphon pisum. EFN and A. fabae are commonly attended by the ant, Lasius niger, while Ac. pisum usually remains uninfested. Sugar concentration and sugar composition of extrafloral nectar did not change significantly after aphid infestation. The sugar concentration was significantly higher in EFN (c. 271 µg µl(-1)) than in the honeydew of A. fabae (37.5 µg µl(-1)). The presence of small A. fabae colonies had no significant effect on ant attendance of EFN, which remained at the same level as that on plants without A. fabae. Obviously, there was no significant competitive effect between the two sugar sources. We suggest that the high sugar concentration in the extrafloral nectar may outweigh the higher quality (due to the presence of melezitose) and quantity of aphid honeydew. Ants and the presence of EFN influenced aphid colony growth. While A. fabae colonies generally grew better in the presence of ants, Ac. pisum colonies declined on plants with EFN or A. fabae colonies. We conclude that EFN may provide some degree of protection for V. faba against those sucking herbivores that are not able to attract ants.

  20. The Mutually Beneficial Interaction of Science and Religion in Contemporary Society

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stoeger, William

    2007-10-01

    The natural and human sciences are in creative tension with religion, but it is a mistake to consider them to be in essential conflict. In fact, their interaction within society and culture can be, and often is, mutually beneficial, as long as the limitations and strengths of each are acknowledged and respected. This is strongly supported by the history of their relationship, and by the issues and interests connecting the two today. Three examples of this are: 1. the way in which each can reveal the competencies and deficiencies of the other; 2. the deep complementarity between the understanding of the universe we have from Big Bang and quantum cosmology and that resulting from elaborating the best classical philosophical Jewish-Christian-Islamic understandings of creation;and 3. the validation of rational inquiry by physics and cosmology, which provides a platform for exploring beyond where the natural sciences can go -- to philosophical and even theological questions. Though the Vatican Observatory is primarily dedicated to scientific research, its history is testimony to this deep and dynamic complementarity.

  1. Solenopsis invicta virus (sinv-1) infection and insecticide interactions in the red imported fire ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Controlling invasive species is a growing concern; however, pesticides can be detrimental for non-target organisms. The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren; Hymenoptera: Formicidae) has aggressively invaded approximately 138 million ha in the USA and causes over $6 billion in damage and ...

  2. Seed Selection by the Harvester Ant Pogonomyrmex rugosus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Coastal Sage Scrub: Interactions With Invasive Plant Species.

    PubMed

    Briggs, C M; Redak, R A

    2016-08-01

    Harvester ants can be the dominant seed predators on plants by collecting and eating seeds and are known to influence plant communities. Harvester ants are abundant in coastal sage scrub (CSS), and CSS is frequently invaded by several exotic plant species. This study used observations of foraging and cafeteria-style experiments to test for seed species selection by the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex rugosus Emery (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in CSS. Analysis of foraging behavior showed that P. rugosus carried seeds of exotic Erodium cicutarium (L.) and exotic Brassica tournefortii (Gouan) on 85 and 15% of return trips to the nest (respectively), and only a very few ants carried the native seeds found within the study areas. When compared with the availability of seeds in the field, P. rugosus selected exotic E. cicutarium and avoided both native Encelia farinosa (Torrey & A. Gray) and exotic B. tournefortii. Foraging by P. rugosus had no major effect on the seed bank in the field. Cafeteria-style experiments confirmed that P. rugosus selected E. cicutarium over other available seeds. Native Eriogonum fasciculatum (Bentham) seeds were even less selected than E. farinosa and B. tournefortii.

  3. Seed Selection by the Harvester Ant Pogonomyrmex rugosus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Coastal Sage Scrub: Interactions With Invasive Plant Species.

    PubMed

    Briggs, C M; Redak, R A

    2016-08-01

    Harvester ants can be the dominant seed predators on plants by collecting and eating seeds and are known to influence plant communities. Harvester ants are abundant in coastal sage scrub (CSS), and CSS is frequently invaded by several exotic plant species. This study used observations of foraging and cafeteria-style experiments to test for seed species selection by the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex rugosus Emery (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in CSS. Analysis of foraging behavior showed that P. rugosus carried seeds of exotic Erodium cicutarium (L.) and exotic Brassica tournefortii (Gouan) on 85 and 15% of return trips to the nest (respectively), and only a very few ants carried the native seeds found within the study areas. When compared with the availability of seeds in the field, P. rugosus selected exotic E. cicutarium and avoided both native Encelia farinosa (Torrey & A. Gray) and exotic B. tournefortii. Foraging by P. rugosus had no major effect on the seed bank in the field. Cafeteria-style experiments confirmed that P. rugosus selected E. cicutarium over other available seeds. Native Eriogonum fasciculatum (Bentham) seeds were even less selected than E. farinosa and B. tournefortii. PMID:27257121

  4. Ant-based computing.

    PubMed

    Michael, Loizos

    2009-01-01

    A biologically and physically plausible model for ants and pheromones is proposed. It is argued that the mechanisms described in this model are sufficiently powerful to reproduce the necessary components of universal computation. The claim is supported by illustrating the feasibility of designing arbitrary logic circuits, showing that the interactions of ants and pheromones lead to the expected behavior, and presenting computer simulation results to verify the circuits' working. The conclusions of this study can be taken as evidence that coherent deterministic and centralized computation can emerge from the collective behavior of simple distributed Markovian processes such as those followed by biological ants, but also, more generally, by artificial agents with limited computational and communication abilities. PMID:19239348

  5. Context-dependent expression of the foraging gene in field colonies of ants: the interacting roles of age, environment and task

    PubMed Central

    Gordon, Deborah M.; Greene, Michael; Kahler, John; Peteru, Swetha

    2016-01-01

    Task allocation among social insect workers is an ideal framework for studying the molecular mechanisms underlying behavioural plasticity because workers of similar genotype adopt different behavioural phenotypes. Elegant laboratory studies have pioneered this effort, but field studies involving the genetic regulation of task allocation are rare. Here, we investigate the expression of the foraging gene in harvester ant workers from five age- and task-related groups in a natural population, and we experimentally test how exposure to light affects foraging expression in brood workers and foragers. Results from our field study show that the regulation of the foraging gene in harvester ants occurs at two time scales: levels of foraging mRNA are associated with ontogenetic changes over weeks in worker age, location and task, and there are significant daily oscillations in foraging expression in foragers. The temporal dissection of foraging expression reveals that gene expression changes in foragers occur across a scale of hours and the level of expression is predicted by activity rhythms: foragers have high levels of foraging mRNA during daylight hours when they are most active outside the nests. In the experimental study, we find complex interactions in foraging expression between task behaviour and light exposure. Oscillations occur in foragers following experimental exposure to 13 L : 11 D (LD) conditions, but not in brood workers under similar conditions. No significant differences were seen in foraging expression over time in either task in 24 h dark (DD) conditions. Interestingly, the expression of foraging in both undisturbed field and experimentally treated foragers is also significantly correlated with the expression of the circadian clock gene, cycle. Our results provide evidence that the regulation of this gene is context-dependent and associated with both ontogenetic and daily behavioural plasticity in field colonies of harvester ants. Our results underscore

  6. Context-dependent expression of the foraging gene in field colonies of ants: the interacting roles of age, environment and task.

    PubMed

    Ingram, Krista K; Gordon, Deborah M; Friedman, Daniel A; Greene, Michael; Kahler, John; Peteru, Swetha

    2016-08-31

    Task allocation among social insect workers is an ideal framework for studying the molecular mechanisms underlying behavioural plasticity because workers of similar genotype adopt different behavioural phenotypes. Elegant laboratory studies have pioneered this effort, but field studies involving the genetic regulation of task allocation are rare. Here, we investigate the expression of the foraging gene in harvester ant workers from five age- and task-related groups in a natural population, and we experimentally test how exposure to light affects foraging expression in brood workers and foragers. Results from our field study show that the regulation of the foraging gene in harvester ants occurs at two time scales: levels of foraging mRNA are associated with ontogenetic changes over weeks in worker age, location and task, and there are significant daily oscillations in foraging expression in foragers. The temporal dissection of foraging expression reveals that gene expression changes in foragers occur across a scale of hours and the level of expression is predicted by activity rhythms: foragers have high levels of foraging mRNA during daylight hours when they are most active outside the nests. In the experimental study, we find complex interactions in foraging expression between task behaviour and light exposure. Oscillations occur in foragers following experimental exposure to 13 L : 11 D (LD) conditions, but not in brood workers under similar conditions. No significant differences were seen in foraging expression over time in either task in 24 h dark (DD) conditions. Interestingly, the expression of foraging in both undisturbed field and experimentally treated foragers is also significantly correlated with the expression of the circadian clock gene, cycle Our results provide evidence that the regulation of this gene is context-dependent and associated with both ontogenetic and daily behavioural plasticity in field colonies of harvester ants. Our results underscore

  7. Competition between honeydew producers in an ant-hemipteran interaction may enhance biological control of an invasive pest.

    PubMed

    Tena, A; Hoddle, C D; Hoddle, M S

    2013-12-01

    Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Liviidae), is an invasive citrus pest in southern California, which secretes honeydew and has the potential to spread a lethal bacterial disease, huanglongbing, of citrus. In urban citrus, Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), also an invasive pest, tends honeydew-producing hemipterans. We used field data to determine whether the mutualistic relationship between L. humile and six established species of honeydew producers may hinder or favor the establishment of D. citri and its biological control with Tamarixia radiata (Waterston) (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) in citrus via competition or mutualism for ants, respectively. In the field, L. humile and D. citri are engaged in a mutualistic relationship. Ants harvest solid honeydew secreted by psyllid nymphs and tended more than 55% of observed D. citri colonies. Linepithema humile displayed a preference hierarchy when tending honeydew producers infesting citrus. It responded equally or less intensively to D. citri than to other honeydew-producing species. Consequently, the mutualism between L. humile and D. citri was affected by the presence of other honeydew-producing species, and the percentage of D. citri colonies tended by L. humile. The number of ants per D. citri colony also decreased as the number of other honeydew producers increased. Diaphorina citri density was also affected by the presence of other honeydew producers. Both colony size and the number of D. citri nymphs counted per tree decreased as the number of other honeydew producers increased. Our results indicate that competition between honeydew producers for the mutualist ant L. humile may hinder the establishment of D. citri by possibly facilitating increased biological control.

  8. Competition between honeydew producers in an ant-hemipteran interaction may enhance biological control of an invasive pest.

    PubMed

    Tena, A; Hoddle, C D; Hoddle, M S

    2013-12-01

    Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Liviidae), is an invasive citrus pest in southern California, which secretes honeydew and has the potential to spread a lethal bacterial disease, huanglongbing, of citrus. In urban citrus, Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), also an invasive pest, tends honeydew-producing hemipterans. We used field data to determine whether the mutualistic relationship between L. humile and six established species of honeydew producers may hinder or favor the establishment of D. citri and its biological control with Tamarixia radiata (Waterston) (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) in citrus via competition or mutualism for ants, respectively. In the field, L. humile and D. citri are engaged in a mutualistic relationship. Ants harvest solid honeydew secreted by psyllid nymphs and tended more than 55% of observed D. citri colonies. Linepithema humile displayed a preference hierarchy when tending honeydew producers infesting citrus. It responded equally or less intensively to D. citri than to other honeydew-producing species. Consequently, the mutualism between L. humile and D. citri was affected by the presence of other honeydew-producing species, and the percentage of D. citri colonies tended by L. humile. The number of ants per D. citri colony also decreased as the number of other honeydew producers increased. Diaphorina citri density was also affected by the presence of other honeydew producers. Both colony size and the number of D. citri nymphs counted per tree decreased as the number of other honeydew producers increased. Our results indicate that competition between honeydew producers for the mutualist ant L. humile may hinder the establishment of D. citri by possibly facilitating increased biological control. PMID:23941659

  9. Ant Larval Demand Reduces Aphid Colony Growth Rates in an Ant-Aphid Interactio

    PubMed Central

    Oliver, Tom H.; Leather, Simon R.; Cook, James M.

    2012-01-01

    Ants often form mutualistic interactions with aphids, soliciting honeydew in return for protective services. Under certain circumstances, however, ants will prey upon aphids. In addition, in the presence of ants aphids may increase the quantity or quality of honeydew produced, which is costly. Through these mechanisms, ant attendance can reduce aphid colony growth rates. However, it is unknown whether demand from within the ant colony can affect the ant-aphid interaction. In a factorial experiment, we tested whether the presence of larvae in Lasius niger ant colonies affected the growth rate of Aphis fabae colonies. Other explanatory variables tested were the origin of ant colonies (two separate colonies were used) and previous diet (sugar only or sugar and protein). We found that the presence of larvae in the ant colony significantly reduced the growth rate of aphid colonies. Previous diet and colony origin did not affect aphid colony growth rates. Our results suggest that ant colonies balance the flow of two separate resources from aphid colonies- renewable sugars or a protein-rich meal, depending on demand from ant larvae within the nest. Aphid payoffs from the ant-aphid interaction may change on a seasonal basis, as the demand from larvae within the ant colony waxes and wanes. PMID:26467951

  10. Introduced fire ants can exclude native ants from critical mutualist-provided resources.

    PubMed

    Wilder, Shawn M; Barnum, Thomas R; Holway, David A; Suarez, Andrew V; Eubanks, Micky D

    2013-05-01

    Animals frequently experience resource imbalances in nature. For ants, one resource that may be particularly valuable for both introduced and native species is high-carbohydrate honeydew from hemipteran mutualists. We conducted field and laboratory experiments: (1) to test if red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) competed with native ants for access to mutualisms with aphids, and (2) to quantify the effects of aphid honeydew presence or absence on colony growth of native ants. We focused on native dolichoderine ants (Formicidae, Dolichoderinae) because they are abundant ants that have omnivorous diets that frequently include mutualist-provided carbohydrates. At two sites in the southeastern US, native dolichoderine ants were far less frequent, and fire ants more frequent, at carbohydrate baits than would be expected based on their frequency in pitfall traps. A field experiment confirmed that a native ant species, Dorymyrmex bureni, was only found tending aphids when populations of S. invicta were suppressed. In the laboratory, colonies of native dolichoderine ants with access to both honeydew and insect prey had twice as many workers and over twice as much brood compared to colonies fed only ad libitum insect prey. Our results provide the first experimental evidence that introduced ants compete for access to mutualist-provided carbohydrates with native ants and that these carbohydrates represent critical resources for both introduced and native ants. These results challenge traditional paradigms of arthropod and ant nutrition and contribute to growing evidence of the importance of nutrition in mediating ecological interactions.

  11. 1979 AETS Yearbook - Science Education/Society: A Guide to Interaction and Influence.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Abraham, Michael R., Ed.; Fox, Fred W., Ed.

    The sixth yearbook of the Association for the Education of Teachers in Science (AETS) is focused on some of the issues and problems that face science teachers. The publication is divided into three parts with part I containing discussions of topics of concern to society which are either science-based or a function of science teaching. Part II…

  12. The Ants Have It!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Daugherty, Belinda

    2001-01-01

    Uses the GEMS guide, "Ants at Home Underground", to explore the life of ants and teach about them in a classroom setting. The activity applies students' knowledge of ants and students learn about ant colonies, what ants eat, and how they live. (SAH)

  13. Ant nebula

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1999-01-01

    A new Hubble Space Telescope image of a celestial object called the Ant Nebula may shed new light on the future demise of our Sun. The image is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/pictures/wfpc .

    The nebula, imaged on July 20, 1997, and June 30, 1998, by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, was observed by Drs. Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Bruce Balick of the University of Washington in Seattle; and Vincent Icke of Leiden University in the Netherlands. JPL designed and built the camera.

    The Ant Nebula, whose technical name is Mz3, resembles the head and thorax of an ant when observed with ground-based telescopes. The new Hubble image, with 10 times the resolution revealing 100 times more detail, shows the 'ant's' body as a pair of fiery lobes protruding from a dying, Sun- like star. The Ant Nebula is located between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Norma.

    The image challenges old ideas about what happens to dying stars. This observation, along with other pictures of various remnants of dying stars called planetary nebulae, shows that our Sun's fate will probably be much more interesting, complex and dramatic than astronomers previously believed.

    Although the ejection of gas from the dying star in the Ant Nebula is violent, it does not show the chaos one might expect from an ordinary explosion, but instead shows symmetrical patterns. One possibility is that the central star has a closely orbiting companion whose gravitational tidal forces shape the outflowing gas. A second possibility is that as the dying star spins, its strong magnetic fields are wound up into complex shapes like spaghetti in an eggbeater. Electrically charged winds, much like those in our Sun's solar wind but millions of times denser and moving at speeds up to 1,000 kilometers per second (more than 600 miles per second) from the star, follow the twisted field lines on their way

  14. Regulation of ants' foraging to resource productivity.

    PubMed Central

    Mailleux, Anne-Catherine; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis; Detrain, Claire

    2003-01-01

    We investigate the behavioural rule used by ant societies to adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity of aphids. When a scout finds a single food source, the decision to lay a recruitment trail is an all-or-none response based on the opportunity for this scout to ingest a desired volume acting as a threshold. Here, we demonstrate, through experimental and theoretical approaches, the generic value of this recruitment rule that remains valid when ants have to forage on multiple small sugar feeders to reach their desired volume. Moreover, our experiments show that when ants decide to recruit nest-mates they lay trail marks of equal intensity, whatever the number of food sources visited. A model based on the 'desired volume' rule of recruitment as well as on experimentally validated parameter values was built to investigate how ant societies adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity profile of aphids. Simulations predict that, with such recruiting rules, the percentage of recruiting ants is directly related to the total production of honeydew. Moreover, an optimal number of foragers exists that maximizes the strength of recruitment, this number being linearly related to the total production of honeydew by the aphid colony. The 'desired volume' recruitment rule that should be generic for all ant species is enough to explain how ants optimize trail recruitment and select aphid colonies or other liquid food resources according to their productivity profile. PMID:12908982

  15. Regulation of ants' foraging to resource productivity.

    PubMed

    Mailleux, Anne-Catherine; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis; Detrain, Claire

    2003-08-01

    We investigate the behavioural rule used by ant societies to adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity of aphids. When a scout finds a single food source, the decision to lay a recruitment trail is an all-or-none response based on the opportunity for this scout to ingest a desired volume acting as a threshold. Here, we demonstrate, through experimental and theoretical approaches, the generic value of this recruitment rule that remains valid when ants have to forage on multiple small sugar feeders to reach their desired volume. Moreover, our experiments show that when ants decide to recruit nest-mates they lay trail marks of equal intensity, whatever the number of food sources visited. A model based on the 'desired volume' rule of recruitment as well as on experimentally validated parameter values was built to investigate how ant societies adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity profile of aphids. Simulations predict that, with such recruiting rules, the percentage of recruiting ants is directly related to the total production of honeydew. Moreover, an optimal number of foragers exists that maximizes the strength of recruitment, this number being linearly related to the total production of honeydew by the aphid colony. The 'desired volume' recruitment rule that should be generic for all ant species is enough to explain how ants optimize trail recruitment and select aphid colonies or other liquid food resources according to their productivity profile.

  16. Transdisciplinary science: a path to understanding the interactions among ocean acidification, ecosystems, and society

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Yates, Kimberly K.; Turley, Carol; Hopkinson, Brian M.; Todgham, Anne E.; Cross, Jessica N.; Greening, Holly; Williamson, Phillip; Van Hooidonk, Ruben; Deheyn, Dimitri D.; Johnson, Zachary

    2015-01-01

    The global nature of ocean acidification (OA) transcends habitats, ecosystems, regions, and science disciplines. The scientific community recognizes that the biggest challenge in improving understanding of how changing OA conditions affect ecosystems, and associated consequences for human society, requires integration of experimental, observational, and modeling approaches from many disciplines over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Such transdisciplinary science is the next step in providing relevant, meaningful results and optimal guidance to policymakers and coastal managers. We discuss the challenges associated with integrating ocean acidification science across funding agencies, institutions, disciplines, topical areas, and regions, and the value of unifying science objectives and activities to deliver insights into local, regional, and global scale impacts. We identify guiding principles and strategies for developing transdisciplinary research in the ocean acidification science community.

  17. Performance of the species-typical alarm response in young workers of the ant Myrmica sabuleti (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is induced by interactions with mature workers.

    PubMed

    Cammaerts, Marie-Claire

    2014-01-01

    Young workers of the ant Myrmica sabuleti (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Meinert 1861 perceived nestmate alarm pheromone but did not display normal alarm behavior (orientation toward the source of emission, increased running speed). They changed their initial behavior when in the presence of older nestmates exhibiting normal alarm behavior. Four days later, the young ants exhibited an imperfect version of normal alarm behavior. This change of behavior did not occur in young ants, which were not exposed to older ants reacting to alarm pheromone. Queen ants perceived the alarm pheromone and, after a few seconds, moved toward its source. Thus, the ants' ability to sense the alarm pheromone and to identify it as an alarm signal is native, while the adult alarm reaction is acquired over time (= age based polyethism) by young ants. It is possible that the change in behavior observed in young ants could be initiated and/or enhanced (via experience-induced developmental plasticity, learning, and/or other mechanisms) by older ants exhibiting alarm behavior.

  18. Performance of the species-typical alarm response in young workers of the ant Myrmica sabuleti (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is induced by interactions with mature workers.

    PubMed

    Cammaerts, Marie-Claire

    2014-01-01

    Young workers of the ant Myrmica sabuleti (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Meinert 1861 perceived nestmate alarm pheromone but did not display normal alarm behavior (orientation toward the source of emission, increased running speed). They changed their initial behavior when in the presence of older nestmates exhibiting normal alarm behavior. Four days later, the young ants exhibited an imperfect version of normal alarm behavior. This change of behavior did not occur in young ants, which were not exposed to older ants reacting to alarm pheromone. Queen ants perceived the alarm pheromone and, after a few seconds, moved toward its source. Thus, the ants' ability to sense the alarm pheromone and to identify it as an alarm signal is native, while the adult alarm reaction is acquired over time (= age based polyethism) by young ants. It is possible that the change in behavior observed in young ants could be initiated and/or enhanced (via experience-induced developmental plasticity, learning, and/or other mechanisms) by older ants exhibiting alarm behavior. PMID:25525102

  19. Performance of the Species-Typical Alarm Response in Young Workers of the Ant Myrmica sabuleti (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Is Induced by Interactions with Mature Workers

    PubMed Central

    Cammaerts, Marie-Claire

    2014-01-01

    Young workers of the ant Myrmica sabuleti (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Meinert 1861 perceived nestmate alarm pheromone but did not display normal alarm behavior (orientation toward the source of emission, increased running speed). They changed their initial behavior when in the presence of older nestmates exhibiting normal alarm behavior. Four days later, the young ants exhibited an imperfect version of normal alarm behavior. This change of behavior did not occur in young ants, which were not exposed to older ants reacting to alarm pheromone. Queen ants perceived the alarm pheromone and, after a few seconds, moved toward its source. Thus, the ants’ ability to sense the alarm pheromone and to identify it as an alarm signal is native, while the adult alarm reaction is acquired over time (= age based polyethism) by young ants. It is possible that the change in behavior observed in young ants could be initiated and/or enhanced (via experience-induced developmental plasticity, learning, and/or other mechanisms) by older ants exhibiting alarm behavior. PMID:25525102

  20. Extrafloral nectar fuels ant life in deserts

    PubMed Central

    Aranda-Rickert, Adriana; Diez, Patricia; Marazzi, Brigitte

    2014-01-01

    Interactions mediated by extrafloral nectary (EFN)-bearing plants that reward ants with a sweet liquid secretion are well documented in temperate and tropical habitats. However, their distribution and abundance in deserts are poorly known. In this study, we test the predictions that biotic interactions between EFN plants and ants are abundant and common also in arid communities and that EFNs are only functional when new vegetative and reproductive structures are developing. In a seasonal desert of northwestern Argentina, we surveyed the richness and phenology of EFN plants and their associated ants and examined the patterns in ant–plant interaction networks. We found that 25 ant species and 11 EFN-bearing plant species were linked together through 96 pairs of associations. Plants bearing EFNs were abundant, representing ca. 19 % of the species encountered in transects and 24 % of the plant cover. Most ant species sampled (ca. 77 %) fed on EF nectar. Interactions showed a marked seasonal pattern: EFN secretion was directly related to plant phenology and correlated with the time of highest ant ground activity. Our results reveal that EFN-mediated interactions are ecologically relevant components of deserts, and that EFN-bearing plants are crucial for the survival of desert ant communities. PMID:25381258

  1. How to be an ant on figs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bain, Anthony; Harrison, Rhett D.; Schatz, Bertrand

    2014-05-01

    Mutualistic interactions are open to exploitation by one or other of the partners and a diversity of other organisms, and hence are best understood as being embedded in a complex network of biotic interactions. Figs participate in an obligate mutualism in that figs are dependent on agaonid fig wasps for pollination and the wasps are dependent on fig ovules for brood sites. Ants are common insect predators and abundant in tropical forests. Ants have been recorded on approximately 11% of fig species, including all six subgenera, and often affect the fig-fig pollinator interaction through their predation of either pollinating and parasitic wasps. On monoecious figs, ants are often associated with hemipterans, whereas in dioecious figs ants predominantly prey on fig wasps. A few fig species are true myrmecophytes, with domatia or food rewards for ants, and in at least one species this is linked to predation of parasitic fig wasps. Ants also play a role in dispersal of fig seeds and may be particularly important for hemi-epiphytic species, which require high quality establishment microsites in the canopy. The intersection between the fig-fig pollinator and ant-plant systems promises to provide fertile ground for understanding mutualistic interactions within the context of complex interaction networks.

  2. Biogenic amine levels, reproduction and social dominance in the queenless ant Streblognathus peetersi

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cuvillier-Hot, Virginie; Lenoir, Alain

    2006-03-01

    Social harmony often relies on ritualised dominance interactions between society members, particularly in queenless ant societies, where colony members do not have developmentally predetermined castes but have to fight for their status in the reproductive and work hierarchy. In this behavioural plasticity, their social organisation resembles more that of vertebrates than that of the “classic” social insects. The present study investigates the neurochemistry of the queenless ant species, Streblognathus peetersi, to better understand the neural basis of the high behavioural plasticity observed in queenless ants. We report measurements of brain biogenic amines [octopamine, dopamine, serotonin] of S. peetersi ants; they reveal a new set of biogenic amine influences on social organisation with no common features with other “primitively organised societies” (bumble bees) and some common features with “highly eusocial” species (honey bees). This similarity to honey bees may either confirm the heritage of queenless species from their probably highly eusocial ancestors or highlight independent patterns of biogenic amine influences on the social organisation of these highly derived species.

  3. Differential Recruitment of Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius) Ants in Response to Ant Garden Herbivory.

    PubMed

    Vicente, R E; Dáttilo, W; Izzo, T J

    2014-12-01

    Although several studies have shown that ants can recognize chemical cues from their host plants in ant-plant systems, it is poorly demonstrated in ant gardens (AGs). In this interaction, ant species constantly interact with various epiphyte species. Therefore, it is possible to expect a convergence of chemical signals released by plants that could be acting to ensure that ants are able to recognize and defend epiphyte species frequently associated with AGs. In this study, it was hypothesized that ants recognize and differentiate among chemical stimuli released by AG epiphytes and non-AG epiphytes. We experimentally simulated leaf herbivore damage on three epiphyte species restricted to AGs and a locally abundant understory herb, Piper hispidum, in order to quantify the number of recruited Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius) defenders. When exposed to the AG epiphytes Peperomia macrostachya and Codonanthe uleana leaves, it was observed that the recruitment of C. femoratus workers was, on average, respectively 556% and 246% higher than control. However, the number of ants recruited by the AG epiphyte Markea longiflora or by the non-AG plant did not differ from paper pieces. This indicated that ants could discern between chemicals released by different plants, suggesting that ants can select better plants. These results can be explained by evolutionary process acting on both ants' capability in discerning plants' chemical compounds (innate attraction) or by ants' learning based on the epiphyte frequency in AGs (individual experience). To disentangle an innate behavior, a product of classical coevolutionary process, from an ant's learned behavior, is a complicated but important subject to understand in the evolution of ant-plant mutualisms.

  4. Dynamics of an ant-plant-pollinator model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, Yuanshi; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Nathaniel Holland, J.

    2015-03-01

    In this paper, we consider plant-pollinator-ant systems in which plant-pollinator interaction and plant-ant interaction are both mutualistic, but there also exists interference of pollinators by ants. The plant-pollinator interaction can be described by a Beddington-DeAngelis formula, so we extend the formula to characterize plant-pollinator mutualisms, including the interference by ants, and form a plant-pollinator-ant model. Using dynamical systems theory, we show uniform persistence of the model. Moreover, we demonstrate conditions under which boundary equilibria are globally asymptotically stable. The dynamics exhibit mechanisms by which the three species could coexist when ants interfere with pollinators. We define a threshold in ant interference. When ant interference is strong, it can drive plant-pollinator mutualisms to extinction. Furthermore, if the ants depend on pollination mutualism for their persistence, then sufficiently strong ant interference could lead to their own extinction as well. Yet, when ant interference is weak, plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualisms can promote the persistence of one another.

  5. How ants drop out: ant abundance on tropical mountains.

    PubMed

    Longino, John T; Branstetter, Michael G; Colwell, Robert K

    2014-01-01

    In tropical wet forests, ants are a large proportion of the animal biomass, but the factors determining abundance are not well understood. We characterized ant abundance in the litter layer of 41 mature wet forest sites spread throughout Central America (Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) and examined the impact of elevation (as a proxy for temperature) and community species richness. Sites were intentionally chosen to minimize variation in precipitation and seasonality. From sea level to 1500 m ant abundance very gradually declined, community richness declined more rapidly than abundance, and the local frequency of the locally most common species increased. These results suggest that within this elevational zone, density compensation is acting, maintaining high ant abundance as richness declines. In contrast, in sites above 1500 m, ant abundance dropped abruptly to much lower levels. Among these high montane sites, community richness explained much more of the variation in abundance than elevation, and there was no evidence of density compensation. The relative stability of abundance below 1500 m may be caused by opposing effects of temperature on productivity and metabolism. Lower temperatures may decrease productivity and thus the amount of food available for consumers, but slower metabolisms of consumers may allow maintenance of higher biomass at lower resource supply rates. Ant communities at these lower elevations may be highly interactive, the result of continuous habitat presence over geological time. High montane sites may be ephemeral in geological time, resulting in non-interactive communities dominated by historical and stochastic processes. Abundance in these sites may be determined by the number of species that manage to colonize and/or avoid extinction on mountaintops. PMID:25098722

  6. How Ants Drop Out: Ant Abundance on Tropical Mountains

    PubMed Central

    Longino, John T.; Branstetter, Michael G.; Colwell, Robert K.

    2014-01-01

    In tropical wet forests, ants are a large proportion of the animal biomass, but the factors determining abundance are not well understood. We characterized ant abundance in the litter layer of 41 mature wet forest sites spread throughout Central America (Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) and examined the impact of elevation (as a proxy for temperature) and community species richness. Sites were intentionally chosen to minimize variation in precipitation and seasonality. From sea level to 1500 m ant abundance very gradually declined, community richness declined more rapidly than abundance, and the local frequency of the locally most common species increased. These results suggest that within this elevational zone, density compensation is acting, maintaining high ant abundance as richness declines. In contrast, in sites above 1500 m, ant abundance dropped abruptly to much lower levels. Among these high montane sites, community richness explained much more of the variation in abundance than elevation, and there was no evidence of density compensation. The relative stability of abundance below 1500 m may be caused by opposing effects of temperature on productivity and metabolism. Lower temperatures may decrease productivity and thus the amount of food available for consumers, but slower metabolisms of consumers may allow maintenance of higher biomass at lower resource supply rates. Ant communities at these lower elevations may be highly interactive, the result of continuous habitat presence over geological time. High montane sites may be ephemeral in geological time, resulting in non-interactive communities dominated by historical and stochastic processes. Abundance in these sites may be determined by the number of species that manage to colonize and/or avoid extinction on mountaintops. PMID:25098722

  7. Moral foundations in an interacting neural networks society: A statistical mechanics analysis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vicente, R.; Susemihl, A.; Jericó, J. P.; Caticha, N.

    2014-04-01

    The moral foundations theory supports that people, across cultures, tend to consider a small number of dimensions when classifying issues on a moral basis. The data also show that the statistics of weights attributed to each moral dimension is related to self-declared political affiliation, which in turn has been connected to cognitive learning styles by the recent literature in neuroscience and psychology. Inspired by these data, we propose a simple statistical mechanics model with interacting neural networks classifying vectors and learning from members of their social neighbourhood about their average opinion on a large set of issues. The purpose of learning is to reduce dissension among agents when disagreeing. We consider a family of learning algorithms parametrized by δ, that represents the importance given to corroborating (same sign) opinions. We define an order parameter that quantifies the diversity of opinions in a group with homogeneous learning style. Using Monte Carlo simulations and a mean field approximation we find the relation between the order parameter and the learning parameter δ at a temperature we associate with the importance of social influence in a given group. In concordance with data, groups that rely more strongly on corroborating evidence sustain less opinion diversity. We discuss predictions of the model and propose possible experimental tests.

  8. Myrmecotrophy: Plants fed by ants.

    PubMed

    Beattie, A

    1989-06-01

    Two plant genera with tubers specialized for occupation by ants absorb nutrients from waste materials accumulated by the resident colonies. The mineral resources of these host plants are augmented by colony foraging which functions as a second root system. This mutualistic interaction has become known as myrmecotrophy. Many other kinds of plant structure are apparent adaptations to accommodate ant colonies; these include pouches on leaves or petioles and hollow twigs, stems or thorns. Sometimes the ant species residing in these structures are aggressive towards enemies of the host plant and are important for plant defence. Recent research provides some evidence that myrmecotrophy may have a wider role in plant nutrition, at least when subsidizing the costs of plant defence. PMID:21227344

  9. How citizen seismology is transforming rapid public earthquake information and interactions between seismologists and society

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bossu, Rémy; Steed, Robert; Mazet-Roux, Gilles; Roussel, Fréderic; Caroline, Etivant

    2015-04-01

    Historical earthquakes are only known to us through written recollections and so seismologists have a long experience of interpreting the reports of eyewitnesses, explaining probably why seismology has been a pioneer in crowdsourcing and citizen science. Today, Internet has been transforming this situation; It can be considered as the digital nervous system comprising of digital veins and intertwined sensors that capture the pulse of our planet in near real-time. How can both seismology and public could benefit from this new monitoring system? This paper will present the strategy implemented at Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) to leverage this new nervous system to detect and diagnose the impact of earthquakes within minutes rather than hours and how it transformed information systems and interactions with the public. We will show how social network monitoring and flashcrowds (massive website traffic increases on EMSC website) are used to automatically detect felt earthquakes before seismic detections, how damaged areas can me mapped through concomitant loss of Internet sessions (visitors being disconnected) and the benefit of collecting felt reports and geolocated pictures to further constrain rapid impact assessment of global earthquakes. We will also describe how public expectations within tens of seconds of ground shaking are at the basis of improved diversified information tools which integrate this user generated contents. A special attention will be given to LastQuake, the most complex and sophisticated Twitter QuakeBot, smartphone application and browser add-on, which deals with the only earthquakes that matter for the public: the felt and damaging earthquakes. In conclusion we will demonstrate that eyewitnesses are today real time earthquake sensors and active actors of rapid earthquake information.

  10. Rationality in collective decision-making by ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Edwards, Susan C; Pratt, Stephen C

    2009-10-22

    Economic models of animal behaviour assume that decision-makers are rational, meaning that they assess options according to intrinsic fitness value and not by comparison with available alternatives. This expectation is frequently violated, but the significance of irrational behaviour remains controversial. One possibility is that irrationality arises from cognitive constraints that necessitate short cuts like comparative evaluation. If so, the study of whether and when irrationality occurs can illuminate cognitive mechanisms. We applied this logic in a novel setting: the collective decisions of insect societies. We tested for irrationality in colonies of Temnothorax ants choosing between two nest sites that varied in multiple attributes, such that neither site was clearly superior. In similar situations, individual animals show irrational changes in preference when a third relatively unattractive option is introduced. In contrast, we found no such effect in colonies. We suggest that immunity to irrationality in this case may result from the ants' decentralized decision mechanism. A colony's choice does not depend on site comparison by individuals, but instead self-organizes from the interactions of multiple ants, most of which are aware of only a single site. This strategy may filter out comparative effects, preventing systematic errors that would otherwise arise from the cognitive limitations of individuals.

  11. Fungal disease dynamics in insect societies: optimal killing rates and the ambivalent effect of high social interaction rates.

    PubMed

    Novak, Sebastian; Cremer, Sylvia

    2015-05-01

    Entomopathogenic fungi are potent biocontrol agents that are widely used against insect pests, many of which are social insects. Nevertheless, theoretical investigations of their particular life history are scarce. We develop a model that takes into account the main distinguishing features between traditionally studied diseases and obligate killing pathogens, like the (biocontrol-relevant) insect-pathogenic fungi Metarhizium and Beauveria. First, obligate killing entomopathogenic fungi produce new infectious particles (conidiospores) only after host death and not yet on the living host. Second, the killing rates of entomopathogenic fungi depend strongly on the initial exposure dosage, thus we explicitly consider the pathogen load of individual hosts. Further, we make the model applicable not only to solitary host species, but also to group living species by incorporating social interactions between hosts, like the collective disease defences of insect societies. Our results identify the optimal killing rate for the pathogen that minimises its invasion threshold. Furthermore, we find that the rate of contact between hosts has an ambivalent effect: dense interaction networks between individuals are considered to facilitate disease outbreaks because of increased pathogen transmission. In social insects, this is compensated by their collective disease defences, i.e., social immunity. For the type of pathogens considered here, we show that even without social immunity, high contact rates between live individuals dilute the pathogen in the host colony and hence can reduce individual pathogen loads below disease-causing levels.

  12. The ant raft

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mlot, Nathan; Hu, David; Equabai, Solomon

    2009-11-01

    To survive floods, fire ants link their arms together to assemble a raft with their own bodies. Because ants are nearly as dense as water, this cooperative behavior requires that a portion of the ant colony must sacrifice itself by remaining underwater to support the colony's weight. Surprisingly, few ants drown during this process due to a striking metamorphosis of the raft: as we show using time-lapse photography, the raft morphs from a spherical to a pancake shape. This pancake configuration--a monolayer of floating ants supporting their dry counterparts--allows all ants to both breathe and remain united as a colony. Data is presented in the form of the dimensions and the rates of formation of the ant raft. We use the statics of small floating bodies to account for the equilibrium raft size as a function of the initial mass and density of the ants.

  13. Uncovering the complexity of ant foraging trails.

    PubMed

    Czaczkes, Tomer J; Grüter, Christoph; Jones, Sam M; Ratnieks, Francis L W

    2012-01-01

    The common garden ant Lasius niger use both trail pheromones and memory of past visits to navigate to and from food sources. In a recent paper we demonstrated a synergistic effect between route memory and trail pheromones: the presence of trail pheromones results in experienced ants walking straighter and faster. We also found that experienced ants leaving a pheromone trail deposit less pheromone. Here we focus on another finding of the experiment: the presence of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), which are used as home range markers by ants, also affects pheromone deposition behavior. When walking on a trail on which CHCs are present but trail pheromones are not, experienced foragers deposit less pheromone on the outward journey than on the return journey. The regulatory mechanisms ants use during foraging and recruitment behavior is subtle and complex, affected by multiple interacting factors such as route memory, travel direction and the presence trail pheromone and home-range markings. PMID:22482017

  14. Ants cushion applied stress by active rearrangements

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liu, Zhongyang; Hyatt, John; Mlot, Nathan; Gerov, Michael; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto; Hu, David

    2013-11-01

    Fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, link their bodies together to form waterproof rafts, which in turn drip, spread, and coagulate, demonstrating properties of an active material that can change state from a liquid to a solid. This soft-matter phase transition is important when the raft interacts with environmental forces such as raindrops and crashing waves. We study this active behavior through plate-on-plate rheology on the ants, extracting the active components by comparison with the rheological behavior of a collection of dead ants. In controlled shear tests, both and live and dead ants show properties of a non-Newtonian fluid, specifically, shear-thinning behavior. In oscillatory tests, live ants exhibit a rare behavior in which their storage modulus (G') and loss modulus (G'') have approximately the same value over three orders magnitudes of frequency and two orders of magnitude of strain, indicating the ants are neither fluid nor solid. In comparison, dead ants are more solid-like, with a storage modulus twice as large as their loss modulus. This striking active behavior arises from rearrangement of their bodies and storage and dissipation of energy with the ants' muscles.

  15. The expression and impact of antifungal grooming in ants.

    PubMed

    Reber, A; Purcell, J; Buechel, S D; Buri, P; Chapuisat, M

    2011-05-01

    Parasites can cause extensive damage to animal societies in which many related individuals frequently interact. In response, social animals have evolved diverse individual and collective defences. Here, we measured the expression and efficiency of self-grooming and allo-grooming when workers of the ant Formica selysi were contaminated with spores of the fungal entomopathogen Metarhizium anisopliae. The amount of self-grooming increased in the presence of fungal spores, which shows that the ants are able to detect the risk of infection. In contrast, the amount of allo-grooming did not depend on fungal contamination. Workers groomed all nestmate workers that were re-introduced into their groups. The amount of allo-grooming towards noncontaminated individuals was higher when the group had been previously exposed to the pathogen. Allo-grooming decreased the number of fungal spores on the surface of contaminated workers, but did not prevent infection in the conditions tested (high dose of spores and late allo-grooming). The rate of disease transmission to groomers and other nestmates was extremely low. The systematic allo-grooming of all individuals returning to the colony, be they contaminated or not, is probably a simple but robust prophylactic defence preventing the spread of fungal diseases in insect societies.

  16. Dead ant walking: a myrmecophilous beetle predator uses parasitoid host location cues to selectively prey on parasitized ants.

    PubMed

    Mathis, Kaitlyn A; Tsutsui, Neil D

    2016-08-17

    Myrmecophiles (i.e. organisms that associate with ants) use a variety of ecological niches and employ different strategies to survive encounters with ants. Because ants are typically excellent defenders, myrmecophiles may choose moments of weakness to take advantage of their ant associates. This hypothesis was studied in the rove beetle, Myrmedonota xipe, which associates with Azteca sericeasur ants in the presence of parasitoid flies. A combination of laboratory and field experiments show that M. xipe beetles selectively locate and prey upon parasitized ants. These parasitized ants are less aggressive towards beetles than healthy ants, allowing beetles to eat the parasitized ants alive without interruption. Moreover, behavioural assays and chemical analysis reveal that M. xipe are attracted to the ant's alarm pheromone, the same secretion used by the phorid fly parasitoids in host location. This strategy allows beetles access to an abundant but otherwise inaccessible resource, as A. sericeasur ants are typically highly aggressive. These results are the first, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a predator sharing cues with a parasitoid to gain access to an otherwise unavailable prey item. Furthermore, this work highlights the importance of studying ant-myrmecophile interactions beyond just their pairwise context. PMID:27512148

  17. Dead ant walking: a myrmecophilous beetle predator uses parasitoid host location cues to selectively prey on parasitized ants.

    PubMed

    Mathis, Kaitlyn A; Tsutsui, Neil D

    2016-08-17

    Myrmecophiles (i.e. organisms that associate with ants) use a variety of ecological niches and employ different strategies to survive encounters with ants. Because ants are typically excellent defenders, myrmecophiles may choose moments of weakness to take advantage of their ant associates. This hypothesis was studied in the rove beetle, Myrmedonota xipe, which associates with Azteca sericeasur ants in the presence of parasitoid flies. A combination of laboratory and field experiments show that M. xipe beetles selectively locate and prey upon parasitized ants. These parasitized ants are less aggressive towards beetles than healthy ants, allowing beetles to eat the parasitized ants alive without interruption. Moreover, behavioural assays and chemical analysis reveal that M. xipe are attracted to the ant's alarm pheromone, the same secretion used by the phorid fly parasitoids in host location. This strategy allows beetles access to an abundant but otherwise inaccessible resource, as A. sericeasur ants are typically highly aggressive. These results are the first, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a predator sharing cues with a parasitoid to gain access to an otherwise unavailable prey item. Furthermore, this work highlights the importance of studying ant-myrmecophile interactions beyond just their pairwise context.

  18. Ant- and Ant-Colony-Inspired ALife Visual Art.

    PubMed

    Greenfield, Gary; Machado, Penousal

    2015-01-01

    Ant- and ant-colony-inspired ALife art is characterized by the artistic exploration of the emerging collective behavior of computational agents, developed using ants as a metaphor. We present a chronology that documents the emergence and history of such visual art, contextualize ant- and ant-colony-inspired art within generative art practices, and consider how it relates to other ALife art. We survey many of the algorithms that artists have used in this genre, address some of their aims, and explore the relationships between ant- and ant-colony-inspired art and research on ant and ant colony behavior.

  19. Ant- and Ant-Colony-Inspired ALife Visual Art.

    PubMed

    Greenfield, Gary; Machado, Penousal

    2015-01-01

    Ant- and ant-colony-inspired ALife art is characterized by the artistic exploration of the emerging collective behavior of computational agents, developed using ants as a metaphor. We present a chronology that documents the emergence and history of such visual art, contextualize ant- and ant-colony-inspired art within generative art practices, and consider how it relates to other ALife art. We survey many of the algorithms that artists have used in this genre, address some of their aims, and explore the relationships between ant- and ant-colony-inspired art and research on ant and ant colony behavior. PMID:26280070

  20. Acoustic communication by ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hickling, Robert

    2002-05-01

    Many ant species communicate acoustically by stridulating, i.e., running a scraper over a washboard-like set of ridges. Ants appear to be insensitive to airborne sound. Consequently, myrmecologists have concluded that the stridulatory signals are transmitted through the substrate. This has tended to diminish the importance of acoustic communication, and it is currently believed that ant communication is based almost exclusively on pheromones, with acoustic communication assigned an almost nonexistent role. However, it can be shown that acoustic communication between ants is effective only if the medium is air and not the substrate. How, then, is it possible for ants to appear deaf to airborne sound and yet communicate through the air? An explanation is provided in a paper [R. Hickling and R. L. Brown, ``Analysis of acoustic communication by ants,'' J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 108, 1920-1929 (2000)]. Ants are small relative to the wavelengths they generate. Hence, they create a near field, which is characterized by a major increase in sound velocity (particle velocity of sound) in the vicinity of the source. Hair sensilla on the ants' antennae respond to sound velocity. Thus, ants are able to detect near-field sound from other ants and to exclude extraneous airborne sound.

  1. Exploring with PAM: Prospecting ANTS Missions for Solar System Surveys

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Clark, P. E.; Rilee, M. L.; Curtis, S. A.

    2003-01-01

    ANTS (Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm), a large (1000 member) swarm of nano to picoclass (10 to 1 kg) totally autonomous spacecraft, are being developed as a NASA advanced mission concept. ANTS, based on a hierarchical insect social order, use an evolvable, self-similar, hierarchical neural system in which individual spacecraft represent the highest level nodes. ANTS uses swarm intelligence attained through collective, cooperative interactions of the nodes at all levels of the system. At the highest levels this can take the form of cooperative, collective behavior among the individual spacecraft in a very large constellation. The ANTS neural architecture is designed for totally autonomous operation of complex systems including spacecraft constellations. The ANTS (Autonomous Nano Technology Swarm) concept has a number of possible applications. A version of ANTS designed for surveying and determining the resource potential of the asteroid belt, called PAM (Prospecting ANTS Mission), is examined here.

  2. Optimal traffic organization in ants under crowded conditions.

    PubMed

    Dussutour, Audrey; Fourcassié, Vincent; Helbing, Dirk; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis

    2004-03-01

    Efficient transportation, a hot topic in nonlinear science, is essential for modern societies and the survival of biological species. Biological evolution has generated a rich variety of successful solutions, which have inspired engineers to design optimized artificial systems. Foraging ants, for example, form attractive trails that support the exploitation of initially unknown food sources in almost the minimum possible time. However, can this strategy cope with bottleneck situations, when interactions cause delays that reduce the overall flow? Here, we present an experimental study of ants confronted with two alternative routes. We find that pheromone-based attraction generates one trail at low densities, whereas at a high level of crowding, another trail is established before traffic volume is affected, which guarantees that an optimal rate of food return is maintained. This bifurcation phenomenon is explained by a nonlinear modelling approach. Surprisingly, the underlying mechanism is based on inhibitory interactions. It points to capacity reserves, a limitation of the density-induced speed reduction, and a sufficient pheromone concentration for reliable trail perception. The balancing mechanism between cohesive and dispersive forces appears to be generic in natural, urban and transportation systems. PMID:14999281

  3. Landmark guidance and vector navigation in outbound desert ants.

    PubMed

    Merkle, Tobias; Wehner, Rüdiger

    2008-11-01

    This study deals with the influence landmark information has on the foraging behaviour of the desert ant, Cataglyphis fortis, especially with the interaction of such landmark information with the ants' path integration system. We show in the first experiment that desert ants that are captured immediately after leaving their nest and then transferred to a remote test area search for the nest rather than activate their previous path integration vector. In a second experiment, the ants had been trained to a landmark corridor on their way to the feeder. In the critical test situation, they were again captured immediately after they had left the nest and transferred to a test field where they faced one of the following three situations: (1) the same landmark corridor as used during the training phase, (2) no landmarks at all and (3) a landmark corridor rotated by 90 deg. as compared with the training situation. Nearly all ants in test situation (1) eventually followed the landmark corridor but most of them never reached the fictive feeder. In situation (2), the ants searched around the nest entrance. In situation (3), approximately one half of the ants searched for the nest, whereas most of the other ants followed the landmark corridor, i.e. headed in a completely wrong direction. Hence, familiar landmarks do not only influence the foraging behaviour of desert ants, e.g. in making the ants start their foraging runs but can even out-compete the ants' path integration system.

  4. Team swimming in ant spermatozoa.

    PubMed

    Pearcy, Morgan; Delescaille, Noémie; Lybaert, Pascale; Aron, Serge

    2014-06-01

    In species where females mate promiscuously, competition between ejaculates from different males to fertilize the ova is an important selective force shaping many aspects of male reproductive traits, such as sperm number, sperm length and sperm-sperm interactions. In eusocial Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), males die shortly after mating and their reproductive success is ultimately limited by the amount of sperm stored in the queen's spermatheca. Multiple mating by queens is expected to impose intense selective pressure on males to optimize the transfer of sperm to the storage organ. Here, we report a remarkable case of cooperation between spermatozoa in the desert ant Cataglyphis savignyi. Males ejaculate bundles of 50-100 spermatozoa. Sperm bundles swim on average 51% faster than solitary sperm cells. Team swimming is expected to increase the amount of sperm stored in the queen spermatheca and, ultimately, enhance male posthumous fitness. PMID:24919705

  5. Team swimming in ant spermatozoa.

    PubMed

    Pearcy, Morgan; Delescaille, Noémie; Lybaert, Pascale; Aron, Serge

    2014-06-01

    In species where females mate promiscuously, competition between ejaculates from different males to fertilize the ova is an important selective force shaping many aspects of male reproductive traits, such as sperm number, sperm length and sperm-sperm interactions. In eusocial Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), males die shortly after mating and their reproductive success is ultimately limited by the amount of sperm stored in the queen's spermatheca. Multiple mating by queens is expected to impose intense selective pressure on males to optimize the transfer of sperm to the storage organ. Here, we report a remarkable case of cooperation between spermatozoa in the desert ant Cataglyphis savignyi. Males ejaculate bundles of 50-100 spermatozoa. Sperm bundles swim on average 51% faster than solitary sperm cells. Team swimming is expected to increase the amount of sperm stored in the queen spermatheca and, ultimately, enhance male posthumous fitness.

  6. Team swimming in ant spermatozoa

    PubMed Central

    Pearcy, Morgan; Delescaille, Noémie; Lybaert, Pascale; Aron, Serge

    2014-01-01

    In species where females mate promiscuously, competition between ejaculates from different males to fertilize the ova is an important selective force shaping many aspects of male reproductive traits, such as sperm number, sperm length and sperm–sperm interactions. In eusocial Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), males die shortly after mating and their reproductive success is ultimately limited by the amount of sperm stored in the queen's spermatheca. Multiple mating by queens is expected to impose intense selective pressure on males to optimize the transfer of sperm to the storage organ. Here, we report a remarkable case of cooperation between spermatozoa in the desert ant Cataglyphis savignyi. Males ejaculate bundles of 50–100 spermatozoa. Sperm bundles swim on average 51% faster than solitary sperm cells. Team swimming is expected to increase the amount of sperm stored in the queen spermatheca and, ultimately, enhance male posthumous fitness. PMID:24919705

  7. Size matters: nest colonization patterns for twig-nesting ants.

    PubMed

    Jiménez-Soto, Estelí; Philpott, Stacy M

    2015-08-01

    Understanding the drivers of ant diversity and co-occurrence in agroecosystems is fundamental because ants participate in interactions that influence agroecosystem processes. Multiple local and regional factors influence ant community assembly.We examined local factors that influence the structure of a twig-nesting ant community in a coffee system in Mexico using an experimental approach. We investigated whether twig characteristics (nest entrance size and diversity of nest entrance sizes) and nest strata (canopy shade tree or coffee shrub) affected occupation, species richness, and community composition of twig-nesting ants and whether frequency of occupation of ant species varied with particular nest entrance sizes or strata.We conducted our study in a shaded coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico, between March and June 2012. We studied ant nest colonization by placing artificial nests (bamboo twigs) on coffee shrubs and shade trees either in diverse or uniform treatments. We also examined whether differences in vegetation (no. of trees, canopy cover and coffee density) influenced nest colonization.We found 33 ant species occupying 73% of nests placed. Nest colonization did not differ with nest strata or size. Mean species richness of colonizing ants was significantly higher in the diverse nest size entrance treatment, but did not differ with nest strata. Community composition differed between strata and also between the diverse and uniform size treatments on coffee shrubs, but not on shade trees. Some individual ant species were more frequently found in certain nest strata and in nests with certain entrance sizes.Our results indicate that twig-nesting ants are nest-site limited, quickly occupy artificial nests of many sizes, and that trees or shrubs with twigs of a diversity of entrance sizes likely support higher ant species richness. Further, individual ant species more frequently occupy nests with different sized entrances promoting ant richness on individual coffee

  8. Size matters: nest colonization patterns for twig-nesting ants

    PubMed Central

    Jiménez-Soto, Estelí; Philpott, Stacy M

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the drivers of ant diversity and co-occurrence in agroecosystems is fundamental because ants participate in interactions that influence agroecosystem processes. Multiple local and regional factors influence ant community assembly. We examined local factors that influence the structure of a twig-nesting ant community in a coffee system in Mexico using an experimental approach. We investigated whether twig characteristics (nest entrance size and diversity of nest entrance sizes) and nest strata (canopy shade tree or coffee shrub) affected occupation, species richness, and community composition of twig-nesting ants and whether frequency of occupation of ant species varied with particular nest entrance sizes or strata. We conducted our study in a shaded coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico, between March and June 2012. We studied ant nest colonization by placing artificial nests (bamboo twigs) on coffee shrubs and shade trees either in diverse or uniform treatments. We also examined whether differences in vegetation (no. of trees, canopy cover and coffee density) influenced nest colonization. We found 33 ant species occupying 73% of nests placed. Nest colonization did not differ with nest strata or size. Mean species richness of colonizing ants was significantly higher in the diverse nest size entrance treatment, but did not differ with nest strata. Community composition differed between strata and also between the diverse and uniform size treatments on coffee shrubs, but not on shade trees. Some individual ant species were more frequently found in certain nest strata and in nests with certain entrance sizes. Our results indicate that twig-nesting ants are nest-site limited, quickly occupy artificial nests of many sizes, and that trees or shrubs with twigs of a diversity of entrance sizes likely support higher ant species richness. Further, individual ant species more frequently occupy nests with different sized entrances promoting ant richness on individual

  9. Bioturbation by Fire Ants in the Coastal Prairie of Texas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cameron, G.; Williams, L.

    2001-12-01

    Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) were introduced to the US in the early part of the last century. They have spread throughout the southeastern US in the absence of native competitors and predators with a range limited by abiotic factors. Each fire ant mound contains thousands of individuals, can be large, and can be numerous enough to comprise a dominant feature of the landscape. Studies of this species have focused upon its spread, formation of single- and multiple-queen colonies, genetic structure, and impact on native fauna and human health. Some studies have analyzed native fire ant-soil interactions, but few studies have examined the process of bioturbation by introduced fire ants in native ecosystems. Fire ants on the coastal prairie of Texas primarily are of the multiple-queen type that exhibit a much higher density of mounds than the single-queen type. Consequently, mound-building activities by fire ants can have a marked effect upon soil structure and nutrient content and may affect soil organisms and plants. Fire ant activity, mound density, mound dispersion, soil texture, soil permeability, soil moisture content, and soil nutrients were measured. Fire ants mounds are visible aboveground from April-November. Density of mounds was 117-738/ha, and average mound lifespan was 3.6 months with only 9% of the mounds remaining active throughout the entire season. Mounds were dispersed randomly. Foraging activity by fire ants was from June through October with a peak in July. Annual soil turnover was estimated by collecting and weighing mounds. There was no effect of ant mounds on soil texture, but water infiltration was higher in areas with ant mounds. Early-season samples showed no nutrient differences, but late-season samples showed that ant mounds contained higher amounts of micronutrients than random samples of soil. These data are compared to similar data on effects of mounds from native ants and from native and introduced ants in different habitats.

  10. Ant predation on herbivores through a multitrophic lens: how effects of ants on plant herbivore defense and natural enemies vary along temperature gradients.

    PubMed

    Rodríguez-Castañeda, G; Brehm, G; Fiedler, K; Dyer, L A

    2016-04-01

    Ants are keystone predators in terrestrial trophic cascades. Addressing ants' roles in multitrophic interactions across regional gradients is important for understanding mechanisms behind range limits of species. We present four hypotheses of trophic dynamics occurring when ants are rare: first, there is a shift in predator communities; second, plants decrease investments in ant attraction and increase production of secondary metabolites; third, lower herbivory at high elevations allows plants to tolerate herbivory; and fourth, distribution of ant-plants can be limited based on ant abundance. Conducting experiments on multitrophic effects of ants across elevational gradients, and incorporating these results to ecological niche modeling (ENM) will improve our knowledge of the impacts of global change on ants, trophic interactions, and biodiversity. PMID:27436650

  11. Density-dependent benefits in ant-hemipteran mutualism? The case of the ghost ant Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae).

    PubMed

    Zhou, Aiming; Kuang, Beiqing; Gao, Yingrui; Liang, Guangwen

    2015-01-01

    Although density-dependent benefits to hemipterans from ant tending have been measured many times, few studies have focused on integrated effects such as interactions between ant tending, natural enemy density, and hemipteran density. In this study, we tested whether the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis is affected by tending by ghost ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum), the presence of parasitoids, mealybug density, parasitoid density and interactions among these factors. Our results showed that mealybug colony growth rate and percentage parasitism were significantly affected by ant tending, parasitoid presence, and initial mealybug density separately. However, there were no interactions among the independent factors. There were also no significant interactions between ant tending and parasitoid density on either mealybug colony growth rate or percentage parasitism. Mealybug colony growth rate showed a negative linear relationship with initial mealybug density but a positive linear relationship with the level of ant tending. These results suggest that benefits to mealybugs are density-independent and are affected by ant tending level.

  12. Transgenerational effects and the cost of ant tending in aphids.

    PubMed

    Tegelaar, Karolina; Glinwood, Robert; Pettersson, Jan; Leimar, Olof

    2013-11-01

    In mutualistic interactions, partners obtain a net benefit, but there may also be costs associated with the provision of benefits for a partner. The question of whether aphids suffer such costs when attended by ants has been raised in previous work. Transgenerational effects, where offspring phenotypes are adjusted based on maternal influences, could be important in the mutualistic interaction between aphids and ants, in particular because aphids have telescoping generations where two offspring generations can be present in a mature aphid. We investigated the immediate and transgenerational influence of ant tending on aphid life history and reproduction by observing the interaction between the facultative myrmecophile Aphis fabae and the ant Lasius niger over 13 aphid generations in the laboratory. We found that the effect of ant tending changes dynamically over successive aphid generations after the start of tending. Initially, total aphid colony weight, aphid adult weight and aphid embryo size decreased compared with untended aphids, consistent with a cost of ant association, but these differences disappeared within four generations of interaction. We conclude that transgenerational effects are important in the aphid-ant interactions and that the costs for aphids of being tended by ants can vary over generations.

  13. Ecology of a fig ant-plant

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harrison, Rhett D.

    2014-05-01

    Mutualistic interactions are embedded in networks of interactions that affect the benefits accruing to the mutualistic partners. Figs and their pollinating wasps are engaged in an obligate mutualism in which the fig is dependent on the fig pollinator for pollination services and the pollinator is dependent on fig ovules for brood sites. This mutualism is exploited by non-pollinating fig wasps that utilise the same ovules, but do not provide a pollination service. Most non-pollinating wasps oviposit from outside the inflorescence (syconium), where they are vulnerable to ant predation. Ficus schwarzii is exposed to high densities of non-pollinating wasps, but Philidris sp. ants patrolling the syconia prevent them from ovipositing. Philidris rarely catch wasps, but the fig encourages the patrolling by providing a reward through extra-floral nectaries on the surface of syconia. Moreover, the reward is apparently only produced during the phase when parasitoids are ovipositing. An ant-exclusion experiment demonstrated that, in the absence of ants, syconia were heavily attacked and many aborted as a consequence. Philidris was normally rare on the figs during the receptive phase or at the time of day when wasp offspring are emerging, so predation on pollinators was limited. However, Myrmicaria sp. ants, which only occurred on three trees, preyed substantially on pollinating as well as non-pollinating wasps. F. schwarzii occurs in small clusters of trees and has an exceptionally rapid crop turnover. These factors appear to promote high densities of non-pollinating wasps and, as a consequence, may have led to both a high incidence of ants on trees and increased selective pressure on fig traits that increase the payoffs of the fig-ant interaction for the fig. The fig receives no direct benefit from the reward it provides, but protects pollinating wasps that will disperse its pollen.

  14. Ecological sampling of ants: competition and biodiversity.

    PubMed

    Smith, Chris R

    2009-07-01

    Ants are among the most dominant taxa in terrestrial ecosystems, despite their small individual size. Furthermore, they are a hyperdiverse family with an estimated 20,000 species. Together, these two properties make ants a model for ecological interactions (specifically competition) and biodiversity estimation. Although there are many means of measuring diversity, the two most common among myrmecologists are baiting and pitfall trapping. Pitfall traps provide an almost unbiased estimate of the ground foraging community, whereas baiting allows the estimation of ecological dominance and the competitive outcomes between species. This protocol describes an approach to assay both abundance (pitfall traps) and ecological interactions (baits) in the same community. PMID:20147206

  15. Resource redistribution in polydomous ant nest networks: local or global?

    PubMed Central

    Franks, Daniel W.; Robinson, Elva J.H.

    2014-01-01

    An important problem facing organisms in a heterogeneous environment is how to redistribute resources to where they are required. This is particularly complex in social insect societies as resources have to be moved both from the environment into the nest and between individuals within the nest. Polydomous ant colonies are split between multiple spatially separated, but socially connected, nests. Whether, and how, resources are redistributed between nests in polydomous colonies is unknown. We analyzed the nest networks of the facultatively polydomous wood ant Formica lugubris. Our results indicate that resource redistribution in polydomous F. lugubris colonies is organized at the local level between neighboring nests and not at the colony level. We found that internest trails connecting nests that differed more in their amount of foraging were stronger than trails between nests with more equal foraging activity. This indicates that resources are being exchanged directly from nests with a foraging excess to nests that require resources. In contrast, we found no significant relationships between nest properties, such as size and amount of foraging, and network measures such as centrality and connectedness. This indicates an absence of a colony-level resource exchange. This is a clear example of a complex behavior emerging as a result of local interactions between parts of a system. PMID:25214755

  16. Homing abilities of the Australian intertidal ant Polyrhachis sokolova.

    PubMed

    Narendra, Ajay; Raderschall, Chloé A; Robson, Simon K A

    2013-10-01

    The pressure of returning to and locating the nest after a successful foraging trip is immense in ants. To find their way back home, ants use a number of different strategies (e.g. path integration, trail following) and rely on a range of cues (e.g. pattern of polarised skylight, landmark panorama) available in their environment. How ants weigh different cues has been a question of great interest and has primarily been addressed in the desert ants from Africa and Australia. We here identify the navigational abilities of an intertidal ant, Polyrhachis sokolova, that lives on mudflats where nests and foraging areas are frequently inundated with tidal water. We find that these solitary foraging ants rely heavily on visual landmark information for navigation, but they are also capable of path integration. By displacing ants with and without vector information at different locations within the local familiar territory, we created conflicts between information from the landmarks and information from the path integrator. The homing success of full-vector ants, compared with the zero-vector ants, when displaced 5 m behind the feeder, indicate that vector information had to be coupled with landmark information for successful homing. To explain the differences in the homing abilities of ants from different locations we determined the navigational information content at each release station and compared it with that available at the feeder location. We report here the interaction of multiple navigation strategies in the context of the information content in the environment.

  17. Entangled active matter: From cells to ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hu, D. L.; Phonekeo, S.; Altshuler, E.; Brochard-Wyart, F.

    2016-07-01

    Both cells and ants belong to the broad field of active matter, a novel class of non-equilibrium materials composed of many interacting units that individually consume energy and collectively generate motion or mechanical stresses. However cells and ants differ from fish and birds in that they can support static loads. This is because cells and ants can be entangled, so that individual units are bound by transient links. Entanglement gives cells and ants a set of remarkable properties usually not found together, such as the ability to flow like a fluid, spring back like an elastic solid, and self-heal. In this review, we present the biology, mechanics and dynamics of both entangled cells and ants. We apply concepts from soft matter physics and wetting to characterize these systems as well as to point out their differences, which arise from their differences in size. We hope that our viewpoints will spur further investigations into cells and ants as active materials, and inspire the fabrication of synthetic active matter.

  18. Congestion and communication in confined ant traffic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gravish, Nick; Gold, Gregory; Zangwill, Andrew; Goodisman, Michael A. D.; Goldman, Daniel I.

    2014-03-01

    Many social animals move and communicate within confined spaces. In subterranean fire ants Solenopsis invicta, mobility within crowded nest tunnels is important for resource and information transport. Within confined tunnels, communication and traffic flow are at odds: trafficking ants communicate through tactile interactions while stopped, yet ants that stop to communicate impose physical obstacles on the traffic. We monitor the bi-directional flow of fire ant workers in laboratory tunnels of varied diameter D. The persistence time of communicating ant aggregations, τ, increases approximately linearly with the number of participating ants, n. The sensitivity of traffic flow increases as D decreases and diverges at a minimum diameter, Dc. A cellular automata model incorporating minimal traffic features--excluded volume and communication duration--reproduces features of the experiment. From the model we identify a competition between information transfer and the need to maintain jam-free traffic flow. We show that by balancing information transfer and traffic flow demands, an optimum group strategy exists which maximizes information throughput. We acknowledge funding from NSF PoLS #0957659 and #PHY-1205878.

  19. Ant semiochemicals limit apterous aphid dispersal.

    PubMed

    Oliver, Thomas H; Mashanova, Alla; Leather, Simon R; Cook, James M; Jansen, Vincent A A

    2007-12-22

    Some organisms can manipulate the nervous systems of others or alter their physiology in order to obtain benefit. Ants are known to limit alate aphid dispersal by physically removing wings and also through chemical manipulation of the alate developmental pathway. This results in reduced dispersal and higher local densities of aphids, which benefit ants in terms of increased honeydew and prey availability. Here, we show that the walking movement of mutualistic apterous aphids is also reduced by ant semiochemicals. Aphids walk slower and their dispersal from an unsuitable patch is hampered by ants. If aphid walking dispersal has evolved as a means of natural enemy escape, then ant chemicals may act as a signal indicating protection; hence, reduced dispersal could be adaptive for aphids. If, however, dispersal is primarily a means to reduce competition or to maintain persistent metapopulations, then manipulation by ants could be detrimental. Such manipulation strategies, common in host-parasite and predator-prey interactions, may be more common in mutualism than expected. PMID:17925280

  20. Mexican Society of Bioelectromagnetism

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cañedo, Luis

    2008-08-01

    In July 2007 physicians, biologists and physicists that have collaborated in previous meetings of the medical branch of the Mexican Physical Society constituted the Mexican Society of Bioelectromagnetism with the purpose of promote scientific study of the interaction of electromagnetic energy (at frequencies ranging from zero Hertz through those of visible light) and acoustic energy with biological systems. A second goal was to increase the contribution of medical and biological professionals in the meetings of the medical branch of the Mexican Physical Society. The following paragraphs summarize some objectives of the Mexican Society of Bioelectromagnetism for the next two years.

  1. Mexican Society of Bioelectromagnetism

    SciTech Connect

    Canedo, Luis

    2008-08-11

    In July 2007 physicians, biologists and physicists that have collaborated in previous meetings of the medical branch of the Mexican Physical Society constituted the Mexican Society of Bioelectromagnetism with the purpose of promote scientific study of the interaction of electromagnetic energy (at frequencies ranging from zero Hertz through those of visible light) and acoustic energy with biological systems. A second goal was to increase the contribution of medical and biological professionals in the meetings of the medical branch of the Mexican Physical Society. The following paragraphs summarize some objectives of the Mexican Society of Bioelectromagnetism for the next two years.

  2. Social coercion of larval development in an ant species

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Villalta, Irene; Amor, Fernando; Cerdá, Xim; Boulay, Raphaël

    2016-04-01

    Ants provide one of the best examples of the division of labor in animal societies. While the queens reproduce, workers generally refrain from laying eggs and dedicate themselves exclusively to domestic tasks. In many species, the small diploid larvae are bipotent and can develop either into workers or queens depending mostly on environmental cues. This generates a conflicting situation between the adults that tend to rear a majority of larvae into workers and the larvae whose individual interest may be to develop into reproductive queens. We tested the social regulation of larval caste fate in the fission-performing ant Aphaenogaster senilis. We first observed interactions between resident workers and queen- and worker-destined larvae in presence/absence of the queen. The results show that workers tend to specifically eliminate queen-destined larvae when the queen is present but not when she is absent or imprisoned in a small cage allowing for volatile pheromone exchanges. In addition, we found that the presence of already developed queen-destined larvae does not inhibit the development of younger still bipotent larvae into queens. Finally, we analyzed the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of queen- and worker-destined larvae and found no significant quantitative or qualitative difference. Interestingly, the total amount of hydrocarbons on both larval castes is extremely low, which lends credence on the chemical insignificance hypothesis of larval ants. Overall, our results suggest that workers control larval development and police larvae that would develop into queens instead of workers. Such policing behavior is similar in many aspects to what is known of worker policing among adults.

  3. Social coercion of larval development in an ant species.

    PubMed

    Villalta, Irene; Amor, Fernando; Cerdá, Xim; Boulay, Raphaël

    2016-04-01

    Ants provide one of the best examples of the division of labor in animal societies. While the queens reproduce, workers generally refrain from laying eggs and dedicate themselves exclusively to domestic tasks. In many species, the small diploid larvae are bipotent and can develop either into workers or queens depending mostly on environmental cues. This generates a conflicting situation between the adults that tend to rear a majority of larvae into workers and the larvae whose individual interest may be to develop into reproductive queens. We tested the social regulation of larval caste fate in the fission-performing ant Aphaenogaster senilis. We first observed interactions between resident workers and queen- and worker-destined larvae in presence/absence of the queen. The results show that workers tend to specifically eliminate queen-destined larvae when the queen is present but not when she is absent or imprisoned in a small cage allowing for volatile pheromone exchanges. In addition, we found that the presence of already developed queen-destined larvae does not inhibit the development of younger still bipotent larvae into queens. Finally, we analyzed the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of queen- and worker-destined larvae and found no significant quantitative or qualitative difference. Interestingly, the total amount of hydrocarbons on both larval castes is extremely low, which lends credence on the chemical insignificance hypothesis of larval ants. Overall, our results suggest that workers control larval development and police larvae that would develop into queens instead of workers. Such policing behavior is similar in many aspects to what is known of worker policing among adults. PMID:26874941

  4. The first mesozoic ants.

    PubMed

    Wilson, E O; Carpenter, F M; Brown, W L

    1967-09-01

    Two worker ants preserved in amber of Upper Cretaceous age have been found in New Jersey. They are the first undisputed remains of social insects of Mesozoic age, extending the existence of social life in insects back to approximately 100 million years. They are also the earliest known fossils that can be assigned with certainty to aculeate Hymenoptera. The species, Sphecomyrma freyi, is considered to represent a new subfamily (Sphecomyrminae), more primitive than any previously known ant group. It forms a near-perfect link between certain nonsocial tiphiid wasps and the most primitive myrmecioid ants.

  5. The effect of disturbance on an ant-plant mutualism.

    PubMed

    Piovia-Scott, Jonah

    2011-06-01

    Protective ant-plant mutualisms-where plants provide food or shelter to ants and ants protect the plants from herbivores-are a common feature in many ecological communities, but few studies have examined the effect of disturbance on these interactions. Disturbance may affect the relationship between plants and their associated ant mutualists by increasing the plants' susceptibility to herbivores, changing the amount of reward provided for the ants, and altering the abundance of ants and other predators. Pruning was used to simulate the damage to buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) caused by hurricanes. Pruned plants grew faster than unpruned plants, produced lower levels of physical anti-herbivore defenses (trichomes, toughness), and higher levels of chemical defenses (tannins) and extrafloral nectaries. Thus, simulated hurricane damage increased plant growth and the amount of reward provided to ant mutualists, but did not have consistent effects on other anti-herbivore defenses. Both herbivores and ants increased in abundance on pruned plants, indicating that the effects of simulated hurricane damage on plant traits were propagated to higher trophic levels. Ant-exclusion led to higher leaf damage on both pruned and upruned plants. The effect of ant-exclusion did not differ between pruned and unpruned plants, despite the fact that pruned plants had higher ant and herbivore densities, produced more extrafloral nectaries, and had fewer physical defenses. Another common predator, clubionid spiders, increased in abundance on pruned plants from which ants had been excluded. I suggest that compensatory predation by these spiders diminished the effect of ant-exclusion on pruned plants.

  6. Field techniques for sampling ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Ants occur in most environments and ecologists ask a diverse array of questions involving ants. Thus, a key consideration in ant studies is to match the environment and question (and associated environmental variables) to the ant sampling technique. Since each technique has distinct limitations, usi...

  7. Spatial patterns in ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Theraulaz, Guy; Bonabeau, Eric; Nicolis, Stamatios C; Solé, Ricard V; Fourcassié, Vincent; Blanco, Stéphane; Fournier, Richard; Joly, Jean-Louis; Fernández, Pau; Grimal, Anne; Dalle, Patrice; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis

    2002-07-23

    The origins of large-scale spatial patterns in biology have been an important source of theoretical speculation since the pioneering work by Turing (1952) on the chemical basis of morphogenesis. Knowing how these patterns emerge and their functional role is important to our understanding of the evolution of biocomplexity and the role played by self organization. However, so far, conclusive evidence for local activation-long-range inhibition mechanisms in real biological systems has been elusive. Here a well-defined experimental and theoretical analysis of the pattern formation dynamics exhibited by clustering behavior in ant colonies is presented. These experiments and a simple mathematical model show that these colonies do indeed use this type of mechanism. All microscopic variables have been measured and provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, for this type of self-organized behavior in complex biological systems, supporting early conjectures about its role in the organization of insect societies. PMID:12114538

  8. Fire Ant Bites

    MedlinePlus

    ... and the patient will develop difficulty breathing in addition to weakness. Patients who develop anaphylaxis and have a significant history of systemic reactions to fire ant stings should be checked for ...

  9. Self-organized structures in a superorganism: do ants “behave” like molecules?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Detrain, Claire; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis

    2006-09-01

    While the striking structures (e.g. nest architecture, trail networks) of insect societies may seem familiar to many of us, the understanding of pattern formation still constitutes a challenging problem. Over the last two decades, self-organization has dramatically changed our view on how collective decision-making and structures may emerge out of a population of ant workers having each their own individuality as well as a limited access to information. A variety of collective behaviour spontaneously outcome from multiple interactions between nestmates, even when there is no directing influence imposed by an external template, a pacemaker or a leader. By focussing this review on foraging structures, we show that ant societies display some properties which are usually considered in physico-chemical systems, as typical signatures of self-organization. We detail the key role played by feed-back loops, fluctuations, number of interacting units and sensitivity to environmental factors in the emergence of a structured collective behaviour. Nonetheless, going beyond simple analogies with non-living self-organized patterns, we stress on the specificities of social structures made of complex living units of which the biological features have been selected throughout the evolution depending on their adaptive value. In particular, we consider the ability of each ant individual to process information about environmental and social parameters, to accordingly tune its interactions with nestmates and ultimately to determine the final pattern emerging at the collective level. We emphasize on the parsimony and simplicity of behavioural rules at the individual level which allow an efficient processing of information, energy and matter within the whole colony.

  10. Ant traffic rules.

    PubMed

    Fourcassié, Vincent; Dussutour, Audrey; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis

    2010-07-15

    Many animals take part in flow-like collective movements. In most species, however, the flow is unidirectional. Ants are one of the rare group of organisms in which flow-like movements are predominantly bidirectional. This adds to the difficulty of the task of maintaining a smooth, efficient movement. Yet, ants seem to fare well at this task. Do they really? And if so, how do such simple organisms succeed in maintaining a smooth traffic flow, when even humans experience trouble with this task? How does traffic in ants compare with that in human pedestrians or vehicles? The experimental study of ant traffic is only a few years old but it has already provided interesting insights into traffic organization and regulation in animals, showing in particular that an ant colony as a whole can be considered as a typical self-organized adaptive system. In this review we will show that the study of ant traffic can not only uncover basic principles of behavioral ecology and evolution in social insects but also provide new insights into the study of traffic systems in general. PMID:20581264

  11. Ants and ant scent reduce bumblebee pollination of artificial flowers.

    PubMed

    Cembrowski, Adam R; Tan, Marcus G; Thomson, James D; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Ants on flowers can disrupt pollination by consuming rewards or harassing pollinators, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of these exploitative and interference forms of competition on pollinator behavior. Using highly rewarding and quickly replenishing artificial flowers that simulate male or female function, we allowed bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to forage (1) on flowers with or without ants (Myrmica rubra) and (2) on flowers with or without ant scent cues. Bumblebees transferred significantly more pollen analogue both to and from ant-free flowers, demonstrating that interference competition with ants is sufficient to modify pollinator foraging behavior. Bees also removed significantly less pollen analogue from ant-scented flowers than from controls, making this the first study to show that bees can use ant scent to avoid harassment at flowers. Ant effects on pollinator behavior, possibly in addition to their effects on pollen viability, may contribute to the evolution of floral traits minimizing ant visitation.

  12. Ants and ant scent reduce bumblebee pollination of artificial flowers.

    PubMed

    Cembrowski, Adam R; Tan, Marcus G; Thomson, James D; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Ants on flowers can disrupt pollination by consuming rewards or harassing pollinators, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of these exploitative and interference forms of competition on pollinator behavior. Using highly rewarding and quickly replenishing artificial flowers that simulate male or female function, we allowed bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to forage (1) on flowers with or without ants (Myrmica rubra) and (2) on flowers with or without ant scent cues. Bumblebees transferred significantly more pollen analogue both to and from ant-free flowers, demonstrating that interference competition with ants is sufficient to modify pollinator foraging behavior. Bees also removed significantly less pollen analogue from ant-scented flowers than from controls, making this the first study to show that bees can use ant scent to avoid harassment at flowers. Ant effects on pollinator behavior, possibly in addition to their effects on pollen viability, may contribute to the evolution of floral traits minimizing ant visitation. PMID:24334742

  13. Planetary Society

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Murdin, P.

    2000-11-01

    Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the non-profit Planetary Society in 1979 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the search for extraterrestrial life. The Society has its headquarters in Pasadena, California, but is international in scope, with 100 000 members worldwide, making it the largest space interest group in the world. The Society funds a var...

  14. Ants recognize foes and not friends.

    PubMed

    Guerrieri, Fernando J; Nehring, Volker; Jørgensen, Charlotte G; Nielsen, John; Galizia, C Giovanni; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2009-07-01

    Discriminating among individuals and rejecting non-group members is essential for the evolution and stability of animal societies. Ants are good models for studying recognition mechanisms, because they are typically very efficient in discriminating 'friends' (nest-mates) from 'foes' (non-nest-mates). Recognition in ants involves multicomponent cues encoded in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles. Here, we tested whether workers of the carpenter ant Camponotus herculeanus use the presence and/or absence of cuticular hydrocarbons to discriminate between nest-mates and non-nest-mates. We supplemented the cuticular profile with synthetic hydrocarbons mixed to liquid food and then assessed behavioural responses using two different bioassays. Our results show that (i) the presence, but not the absence, of an additional hydrocarbon elicited aggression and that (ii) among the three classes of hydrocarbons tested (unbranched, mono-methylated and dimethylated alkanes; for mono-methylated alkanes, we present a new synthetic pathway), only the dimethylated alkane was effective in eliciting aggression. Our results suggest that carpenter ants use a fundamentally different mechanism for nest-mate recognition than previously thought. They do not specifically recognize nest-mates, but rather recognize and reject non-nest-mates bearing odour cues that are novel to their own colony cuticular hydrocarbon profile. This begs for a reappraisal of the mechanisms underlying recognition systems in social insects.

  15. Ants recognize foes and not friends.

    PubMed

    Guerrieri, Fernando J; Nehring, Volker; Jørgensen, Charlotte G; Nielsen, John; Galizia, C Giovanni; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2009-07-01

    Discriminating among individuals and rejecting non-group members is essential for the evolution and stability of animal societies. Ants are good models for studying recognition mechanisms, because they are typically very efficient in discriminating 'friends' (nest-mates) from 'foes' (non-nest-mates). Recognition in ants involves multicomponent cues encoded in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles. Here, we tested whether workers of the carpenter ant Camponotus herculeanus use the presence and/or absence of cuticular hydrocarbons to discriminate between nest-mates and non-nest-mates. We supplemented the cuticular profile with synthetic hydrocarbons mixed to liquid food and then assessed behavioural responses using two different bioassays. Our results show that (i) the presence, but not the absence, of an additional hydrocarbon elicited aggression and that (ii) among the three classes of hydrocarbons tested (unbranched, mono-methylated and dimethylated alkanes; for mono-methylated alkanes, we present a new synthetic pathway), only the dimethylated alkane was effective in eliciting aggression. Our results suggest that carpenter ants use a fundamentally different mechanism for nest-mate recognition than previously thought. They do not specifically recognize nest-mates, but rather recognize and reject non-nest-mates bearing odour cues that are novel to their own colony cuticular hydrocarbon profile. This begs for a reappraisal of the mechanisms underlying recognition systems in social insects. PMID:19364750

  16. Ant behaviour and seed morphology: a missing link of myrmecochory.

    PubMed

    Gómez, Crisanto; Espadaler, Xavier; Bas, Josep M

    2005-12-01

    Seed dispersal by ants (myrmecochory) is mediated by the presence of a lipid-rich appendage (elaiosome) on the seed that induces a variety of ants to collect the diaspores. When seeds mature or fall onto the ground, these ant species transport them to their nest. After eating the elaiosome, the seed is discarded in nest galleries or outside, in the midden or farther away, where seeds can potentially germinate. The final location of seeds with their elaiosomes removed was evaluated to assess the importance of possible handles (structures that ants can grasp to carry) in transporting ants during re-dispersal experiments of seeds from nests of six species of ants. The results indicate that seeds remained within the nest because the ants were not able to transport them out of the nest. As a consequence of the elaiosome being removed, small ant species could not take Euphorbia characias seeds out of their nests. Only large ant species could remove E. characias seeds from their nests. Attaching an artificial handle to E. characias seeds allowed small ant species to redistribute the seeds from their nests. On the other hand, Rhamnus alaternus seeds that have a natural handle after the elaiosome removal were removed from the nests by both groups of ant species. If a seed has an element that acts as a handle, it will eventually get taken out of the nest. The ants' size and their mandible gap can determine the outcome of the interaction (i.e. the pattern of the final seed shadow) and as a consequence, could influence the events that take place after the dispersal process. PMID:16044350

  17. Creative Drama and Agricultural Societies.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Courtney, Richard

    1989-01-01

    Discusses the interaction of culture and creative drama. Examines agricultural societies under three conditions: historically, from neolithic times; contemporary American Southwest Indian and Polynesian; and modern farming subcultures of European industrial societies. Asks how far agricultural life influences creative drama in agrarian societies.…

  18. Recognition of Social Identity in Ants

    PubMed Central

    Bos, Nick; d’Ettorre, Patrizia

    2012-01-01

    Recognizing the identity of others, from the individual to the group level, is a hallmark of society. Ants, and other social insects, have evolved advanced societies characterized by efficient social recognition systems. Colony identity is mediated by colony specific signature mixtures, a blend of hydrocarbons present on the cuticle of every individual (the “label”). Recognition occurs when an ant encounters another individual, and compares the label it perceives to an internal representation of its own colony odor (the “template”). A mismatch between label and template leads to rejection of the encountered individual. Although advances have been made in our understanding of how the label is produced and acquired, contradictory evidence exists about information processing of recognition cues. Here, we review the literature on template acquisition in ants and address how and when the template is formed, where in the nervous system it is localized, and the possible role of learning. We combine seemingly contradictory evidence in to a novel, parsimonious theory for the information processing of nestmate recognition cues. PMID:22461777

  19. Nectar Theft and Floral Ant-Repellence: A Link between Nectar Volume and Ant-Repellent Traits?

    PubMed Central

    Ballantyne, Gavin; Willmer, Pat

    2012-01-01

    As flower visitors, ants rarely benefit a plant. They are poor pollinators, and can also disrupt pollination by deterring other flower visitors, or by stealing nectar. Some plant species therefore possess floral ant-repelling traits. But why do particular species have such traits when others do not? In a dry forest in Costa Rica, of 49 plant species around a third were ant-repellent at very close proximity to a common generalist ant species, usually via repellent pollen. Repellence was positively correlated with the presence of large nectar volumes. Repellent traits affected ant species differently, some influencing the behaviour of just a few species and others producing more generalised ant-repellence. Our results suggest that ant-repellent floral traits may often not be pleiotropic, but instead could have been selected for as a defence against ant thieves in plant species that invest in large volumes of nectar. This conclusion highlights to the importance of research into the cost of nectar production in future studies into ant-flower interactions. PMID:22952793

  20. Fungus-growing ants.

    PubMed

    Weber, N A

    1966-08-01

    Fungus-growing ants (Attini) are in reality unique fungus-culturing insects.There are several hundred species in some dozen genera, of which Acromyrmex and Atta are the conspicuous leaf-cutters. The center of their activities is the fungus garden, which is also the site of the queen and brood. The garden, in most species, is made from fresh green leaves or other vegetal material. The ants forage for this, forming distinct trails to the vegetation that is being harvested. The cut leaves or other substrate are brought into the nest and prepared for the fungus. Fresh leaves and flowers are cut into pieces a millimeter or two in diameter; the ants form them into a pulpy mass by pinching them with the mandibles and adding saliva. Anal droplets are deposited on the pieces, which are then forced into place in the garden. Planting of the fungus is accomplished by an ant's picking up tufts of the adjacent mycelium and dotting the surface of the new substrate with it. The combination of salivary and anal secretions, together with the constant care given by the ants, facilitates the growth of the ant fungus only, despite constant possibilities for contamination. When the ants are removed, alien fungi and other organisms flourish. A mature nest of Atta Sexdens may consist of 2000 chambers, some temporarily empty, some with refuse, and the remainder with fungus gardens. Thousands of kilograms of fresh leaves will have been used. A young laboratory colony of Atta cephalotes will use 1 kilogram of fresh leaves for one garden. The attines are the chief agents for introducing organic matter into the soil in tropical rain forests; this matter becomes the nucleus for a host of other organisms, including nematodes and arthropods, after it is discarded by the ants. One ant species cultures a yeast; all others grow a mycelium. In the higher species the mycelium forms clusters of inflated hyphae. Mycologists accept as valid two names for confirmed fruiting stages: Leucocoprinus ( or

  1. Fossil evidence for the early ant evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perrichot, Vincent; Lacau, Sébastien; Néraudeau, Didier; Nel, André

    2008-02-01

    Ants are one of the most studied insects in the world; and the literature devoted to their origin and evolution, systematics, ecology, or interactions with plants, fungi and other organisms is prolific. However, no consensus yet exists on the age estimate of the first Formicidae or on the origin of their eusociality. We review the fossil and biogeographical record of all known Cretaceous ants. We discuss the possible origin of the Formicidae with emphasis on the most primitive subfamily Sphecomyrminae according to its distribution and the Early Cretaceous palaeogeography. And we review the evidence of true castes and eusociality of the early ants regarding their morphological features and their manner of preservation in amber. The mid-Cretaceous amber forest from south-western France where some of the oldest known ants lived, corresponded to a moist tropical forest close to the shore with a dominance of gymnosperm trees but where angiosperms (flowering plants) were already diversified. This palaeoenvironmental reconstruction supports an initial radiation of ants in forest ground litter coincident with the rise of angiosperms, as recently proposed as an ecological explanation for their origin and successful evolution.

  2. Alate susceptibility in ants

    PubMed Central

    Ho, Eddie K H; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Pathogens are predicted to pose a particular threat to eusocial insects because infections can spread rapidly in colonies with high densities of closely related individuals. In ants, there are two major castes: workers and reproductives. Sterile workers receive no direct benefit from investing in immunity, but can gain indirect fitness benefits if their immunity aids the survival of their fertile siblings. Virgin reproductives (alates), on the other hand, may be able to increase their investment in reproduction, rather than in immunity, because of the protection they receive from workers. Thus, we expect colonies to have highly immune workers, but relatively more susceptible alates. We examined the survival of workers, gynes, and males of nine ant species collected in Peru and Canada when exposed to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. For the seven species in which treatment with B. bassiana increased ant mortality relative to controls, we found workers were significantly less susceptible compared with both alate sexes. Female and male alates did not differ significantly in their immunocompetence. Our results suggest that, as with other nonreproductive tasks in ant colonies like foraging and nest maintenance, workers have primary responsibility for colony immunity, allowing alates to specialize on reproduction. We highlight the importance of colony-level selection on individual immunity in ants and other eusocial organisms. PMID:25540683

  3. Alate susceptibility in ants.

    PubMed

    Ho, Eddie K H; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-11-01

    Pathogens are predicted to pose a particular threat to eusocial insects because infections can spread rapidly in colonies with high densities of closely related individuals. In ants, there are two major castes: workers and reproductives. Sterile workers receive no direct benefit from investing in immunity, but can gain indirect fitness benefits if their immunity aids the survival of their fertile siblings. Virgin reproductives (alates), on the other hand, may be able to increase their investment in reproduction, rather than in immunity, because of the protection they receive from workers. Thus, we expect colonies to have highly immune workers, but relatively more susceptible alates. We examined the survival of workers, gynes, and males of nine ant species collected in Peru and Canada when exposed to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. For the seven species in which treatment with B. bassiana increased ant mortality relative to controls, we found workers were significantly less susceptible compared with both alate sexes. Female and male alates did not differ significantly in their immunocompetence. Our results suggest that, as with other nonreproductive tasks in ant colonies like foraging and nest maintenance, workers have primary responsibility for colony immunity, allowing alates to specialize on reproduction. We highlight the importance of colony-level selection on individual immunity in ants and other eusocial organisms. PMID:25540683

  4. An ant colony approach for image texture classification

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ye, Zhiwei; Zheng, Zhaobao; Ning, Xiaogang; Yu, Xin

    2005-10-01

    Ant colonies, and more generally social insect societies, are distributed systems that show a highly structured social organization in spite of the simplicity of their individuals. As a result of this swarm intelligence, ant colonies can accomplish complex tasks that far exceed the individual capacities of a single ant. As is well known that aerial image texture classification is a long-term difficult problem, which hasn't been fully solved. This paper presents an ant colony optimization methodology for image texture classification, which assigns N images into K type of clusters as clustering is viewed as a combinatorial optimization problem in the article. The algorithm has been tested on some real images and performance of this algorithm is superior to k-means algorithm. Computational simulations reveal very encouraging results in terms of the quality of solution found.

  5. Odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) as back-seat drivers of localized ant decline in urban habitats.

    PubMed

    Salyer, Adam; Bennett, Gary W; Buczkowski, Grzegorz A

    2014-01-01

    Invasive species and habitat disturbance threaten biodiversity worldwide by modifying ecosystem performance and displacing native organisms. Similar homogenization impacts manifest locally when urbanization forces native species to relocate or reinvade perpetually altered habitat. This study investigated correlations between ant richness and abundance in response to urbanization and the nearby presence of invasive ant species, odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile), within its native region. Surveying localized ant composition within natural, semi-natural, and urban habitat supported efforts to determine whether T. sessile appear to be primary (drivers) threats as instigators or secondary (passengers) threats as inheritors of indigenous ant decline. Sampling 180 sites, evenly split between all habitats with and without T. sessile present, yielded 45 total species. Although urbanization and T. sessile presence factors were significantly linked to ant decline, their interaction correlated to the greatest reduction of total ant richness (74%) and abundance (81%). Total richness appeared to decrease from 27 species to 18 when natural habitat is urbanized and from 18 species to 7 with T. sessile present in urban plots. Odorous house ant presence minimally influenced ant communities within natural and semi-natural habitat, highlighting the importance of habitat alteration and T. sessile presence interactions. Results suggest urbanization releases T. sessile from unknown constraints by decreasing ant richness and competition. Within urban environment, T. sessile are pre-adapted to quickly exploit new resources and grow to supercolony strength wherein T. sessile drive adjacent biodiversity loss. Odorous house ants act as passengers and drivers of ecological change throughout different phases of urban 'invasion'. This progression through surviving habitat alteration, exploiting new resources, thriving, and further reducing interspecific competition supports a "back

  6. Utilization of Anting-Anting (Acalypha indica) Leaves as Antibacterial

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Batubara, Irmanida; Wahyuni, Wulan Tri; Firdaus, Imam

    2016-01-01

    Anting-anting (Acalypha indica) plants is a species of plant having catkin type of inflorescence. This research aims to utilize anting-anting as antibacterial toward Streptococcus mutans and degradation of biofilm on teeth. Anting-anting leaves were extracted by maceration technique using methanol, chloroform, and n-hexane. Antibacterial and biofilm degradation assays were performed using microdilution technique with 96 well. n-Hexane extracts of anting-anting leaves gave the best antibacterial potency with minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration value of 500 μg/mL and exhibited good biofilm degradation activity. Fraction of F3 obtained from fractionation of n-hexane's extract with column chromatography was a potential for degradation of biofilm with IC50 value of 56.82 μg/mL. Alkaloid was suggested as antibacterial and degradation of biofilm in the active fraction.

  7. Synergy between social and private information increases foraging efficiency in ants.

    PubMed

    Czaczkes, Tomer J; Grüter, Christoph; Jones, Sam M; Ratnieks, Francis L W

    2011-08-23

    Insect societies integrate many information sources to organize collective activities such as foraging. Many ants use trail pheromones to guide foragers to food sources, but foragers can also use memories to find familiar locations of stable food sources. Route memories are often more accurate than trail pheromones in guiding ants, and are often followed in preference to trail pheromones when the two conflict. Why then does the system expend effort in producing and acquiring seemingly redundant and low-quality information, such as trail pheromones, when route memory is available? Here we show that, in the ant Lasius niger, trail pheromones and route memory act synergistically during foraging; increasing walking speed and straightness by 25 and 30 per cent, respectively, and maintaining trail pheromone deposition, but only when used together. Our results demonstrate a previously undescribed major role of trail pheromones: to complement memory by allowing higher confidence in route memory. This highlights the importance of multiple interacting information sources in the efficient running of complex adaptive systems. PMID:21325309

  8. Ant species identity mediates reproductive traits and allocation in an ant-garden bromeliad

    PubMed Central

    Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Pélozuelo, Laurent; Carrias, Jean-François; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2012-01-01

    Background and Aims Determining the sources of variation in floral morphology is crucial to understanding the mechanisms underlying Angiosperm evolution. The selection of floral and reproductive traits is influenced by the plant's abiotic environment, florivores and pollinators. However, evidence that variations in floral traits result from mutualistic interactions with insects other than pollinators is lacking in the published literature and has rarely been investigated. We aimed to determine whether the association with either Camponotus femoratus or Pachycondyla goeldii (both involved in seed dispersal and plant protection) mediates the reproductive traits and allocation of Aechmea mertensii, an obligatory ant-garden tank-bromeliad, differently. Methods Floral and reproductive traits were compared between the two A. mertensii ant-gardens. The nitrogen flux from the ants to the bromeliads was investigated through experimental enrichments with stable isotopes (15N). Key Results Camponotus femoratus-associated bromeliads produced inflorescences up to four times longer than did P. goeldii-associated bromeliads. Also, the numbers of flowers and fruits were close to four times higher, and the number of seeds and their mass per fruit were close to 1·5 times higher in C. femoratus than in P. goeldii-associated bromeliads. Furthermore, the 15N-enrichment experiment showed that C. femoratus-associated bromeliads received more nitrogen from ants than did P. goeldii-associated bromeliads, with subsequent positive repercussions on floral development. Greater benefits were conferred to A. mertensii by the association with C. femoratus compared with P. goeldii ants. Conclusions We show for the first time that mutualistic associations with ants can result in an enhanced reproductive allocation for the bromeliad A. mertensii. Nevertheless, the strength and direction of the selection of floral and fruit traits change based on the ant species and were not related to light

  9. Can the Argentine ant ( Linepithema humile Mayr) replace native ants in myrmecochory?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gómez, Crisanto; Oliveras, Jordi

    2003-04-01

    We analyse the influence of the Argentine ant ( Linepithema humile Mayr) on the seed dispersal process of the myrmecochorous plants Euphorbia characias, E. biumbellata, Genista linifolia, G. triflora, G. monspessulana and Sarothamnus arboreus. The observations were made in two study plots of Mediterranean cork-oak secondary forest (invaded and non-invaded by L. humile). The presence of L. humile implies the displacement of all native ant species that disperse seeds. Seed transports in the non-invaded zone were carried out by eight ant species. In the invaded zone, L. humile workers removed and transported seeds to the nest. In vertebrate exclusion trials, we observed the same level of seed removal in the invaded and non-invaded zones. Two findings could explain this result. Although mean time to seed localization was higher for native ants (431.7 s) than that for L. humile (150.5 s), the mean proportion of seeds transported after being detected was higher (50.1%) in non-invaded than in invaded (16.8%) zones. The proportion of seeds removed and transported into an ant nest after an ant-seed interaction had dramatically reduced from non-invaded (41.9%) to invaded (7.4%) zones. The levels of seed dispersal by ants found prior to invasion are unlikely to be maintained in invaded zones. However, total replacement of seed dispersal function is possible if contact iteration finally offers similar levels or quantities of seeds reaching the nests. The results obtained confirm that the Argentine ant invasion may affect myrmecochory dramatically in the Mediterranean biome.

  10. The Ants Go Marching Millions by Millions: Invasive Ant Research

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Invasive ants are a worldwide problem that is expanding both geographically and in intensity. Population explosions of invasive ants can overrun landscapes and inundate structures. Pest management professionals are often the first responders to complaints about invading ants. This session will fo...

  11. The ants go marching millions by millions: invasive ant research

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Invasive ants are a worldwide problem that is expanding both geographically and in intensity. Population explosions of invasive ants can overrun landscapes and inundate structures. Pest management professionals are often the first responders to complaints about invading ants. This session will fo...

  12. Wood-nesting ants and their parasites in forests and coffee agroecosystems.

    PubMed

    De La Mora, Aldo; Philpott, Stacy M

    2010-10-01

    Agricultural intensification is linked to reduced species richness and may limit the effectiveness of predators in agricultural systems. We studied the abundance, diversity, and species composition of wood-nesting ants and frequency of parasitism of poneromorph ants in coffee agroeco systems and a forest fragment in Chiapas, Mexico. In three farms differing in shade management and in a nearby forest fragment, we surveyed ants nesting in rotten wood. We collected pupae of all poneromorph ants encountered, and incubated pupae for 15 d to recover emerging ant parasites. If no parasites emerged, we dissected pupae to examine for parasitism. Overall, we found 63 ant morphospecies, 29 genera, and 7 subfamilies from 520 colonies. There were no significant differences in ant richness or abundance between the different sites. However, there were significant differences in the species composition of ants sampled in the four different sites. The parasitism rates of ants differed according to site; in the forest 77.7% of species were parasitized, and this number declined with increasing intensification in traditional polyculture (40%),commercial polyculture (25%), and shade monoculture (16.6%). For three of four poneromorph species found in >1 habitat, parasitism rates were higher in the more vegetatively complex sites. The result that both ant species composition and ant parasitism differed among by site indicates that coffee management intensification affects wood-nesting ant communities. Further, coffee intensification may significantly alter interactions between ants and their parasites, with possible implications for biological control in coffee agroecosystems. PMID:22546442

  13. Routing Vehicles with Ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tan, Wen Fang; Lee, Lai Soon; Majid, Zanariah Abdul; Seow, Hsin Vonn

    Routing vehicles involve the design of an optimal set of routes for a fleet of vehicles to serve a number of customers with known demands. This research develops an Ant Colony Optimization for the vehicle routing with one central depot and identical vehicles. The procedure simulates the behavior of real ants that always find the shortest path between their nest and a food source through a form of communication, pheromone trail. Finally, preliminary results on the learning of the algorithm testing on benchmark data set will be presented in this paper.

  14. Army ants: an evolutionary bestseller?

    PubMed

    Berghoff, Stefanie M

    2003-09-01

    Army ants are characterized by a complex combination of behavioral and morphological traits. Molecular data now indicate that army ant behavior has a unique evolutionary origin and has been conserved for over more than 100 million years.

  15. Multiple Ant Species Tending Lac Insect Kerria yunnanensis (Hemiptera: Kerriidae) Provide Asymmetric Protection against Parasitoids

    PubMed Central

    Li, Qiao; Hoffmann, Benjamin D.; Zhang, Wei

    2014-01-01

    This study investigated the effects of ant attendance on the parasitoid community and parasitism of lac insect Kerria yunnanensis aggregations in Yunnan province, China. We manipulated ant attendance to establish three treatments: (1) ant exclusion; (2) low ant attendance by several ant species; and (3) high ant attendance by Crematogaster macaoensis. Five parasitoid species were collected, with two species contributing 82.7 and 13.2% of total abundance respectively. Total parasitoid abundance was lowest in the February sample when K. yunnanensis was in its younger life stage, being significantly lower in the ant exclusion treatment. In April, all three treatments had significantly different parasitoid abundances, being highest in the ant exclusion treatment and the lowest in the high ant attendance treatment. When ants were present, there were strong negative relationships between total parasitoid abundance and ant abundance, with the relationships being dependent upon the ant species composition and abundance. The patterns of total parasitoid abundance were driven by the two most abundant parasitoid species. Parasitoid species richness did not differ among treatments or between sample times, however, multivariate analysis confirmed that overall parasitoid community structure differed significantly among treatments and between sample times, with the high ant attendance treatment differing most from the other two treatments. Interestingly the absence of ants did not result in increased parasitism from four of the five parasitoids. Ants in lac insect farming systems have a clear role for agricultural pest management. A full understanding of the asymmetric abilities of ants to influence parasitoid communities, and affect parasitism of hosts will require further experimental manipulation to assess the relative roles of 1) the abundance of each individual ant species on parasitoid access to hosts, 2) competition among parasitoids, and 3) the interaction between the

  16. Autism Society

    MedlinePlus

    ... age, and provide the latest information regarding treatment, education, research, and advocacy. Learn more Improving the lives of all affected by autism. The Autism Society is the nation's leading grassroots ...

  17. Spectacular Batesian mimicry in ants.

    PubMed

    Ito, Fuminori; Hashim, Rosli; Huei, Yek Sze; Kaufmann, Eva; Akino, Toshiharu; Billen, Johan

    2004-10-01

    The mechanism by which palatable species take advantage of their similarity in appearance to those that are unpalatable, in order to avoid predation, is called Batesian mimicry. Several arthropods are thought to be Batesian mimics of social insects; however, social insects that are Batesian mimics among themselves are rare. In Malaysia we found a possible Batesian mimic in an arboreal ant species, Camponotus sp., which was exclusively observed on foraging trails of the myrmicine ant Crematogaster inflata. The bright yellow and black colouring pattern, as well as the walking behaviour, were very similar in both species. We observed general interactions between the two species, and tested their palatability and the significance of the remarkably similar visual colour patterns for predator avoidance. Prey offered to C. inflata was also eaten by Camponotus workers in spite of their being attacked by C. inflata, indicating that Camponotus sp. is a commensal of C. inflata. An experiment with chicks as potential predators suggests that Camponotus sp. is palatable whereas C. inflata is unpalatable. After tasting C. inflata, the chicks no longer attacked Camponotus sp., indicating that Camponotus sp. is a Batesian mimic of Crematogaster inflata.

  18. Spectacular Batesian mimicry in ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ito, Fuminori; Hashim, Rosli; Huei, Yek Sze; Kaufmann, Eva; Akino, Toshiharu; Billen, Johan

    2004-10-01

    The mechanism by which palatable species take advantage of their similarity in appearance to those that are unpalatable, in order to avoid predation, is called Batesian mimicry. Several arthropods are thought to be Batesian mimics of social insects; however, social insects that are Batesian mimics among themselves are rare. In Malaysia we found a possible Batesian mimic in an arboreal ant species, Camponotus sp., which was exclusively observed on foraging trails of the myrmicine ant Crematogaster inflata. The bright yellow and black colouring pattern, as well as the walking behaviour, were very similar in both species. We observed general interactions between the two species, and tested their palatability and the significance of the remarkably similar visual colour patterns for predator avoidance. Prey offered to C. inflata was also eaten by Camponotus workers in spite of their being attacked by C. inflata, indicating that Camponotus sp. is a commensal of C. inflata. An experiment with chicks as potential predators suggests that Camponotus sp. is palatable whereas C. inflata is unpalatable. After tasting C. inflata, the chicks no longer attacked Camponotus sp., indicating that Camponotus sp. is a Batesian mimic of Crematogaster inflata.

  19. Colony-level impacts of parasitoid flies on fire ants.

    PubMed Central

    Mehdiabadi, Natasha J; Gilbert, Lawrence E

    2002-01-01

    The red imported fire ant is becoming a global ecological problem, having invaded the United States, Puerto Rico, New Zealand and, most recently, Australia. In its established areas, this pest is devastating natural biodiversity. Early attempts to halt fire ant expansion with pesticides actually enhanced its spread. Phorid fly parasitoids from South America have now been introduced into the United States as potential biological control agents of the red imported fire ant, but the impact of these flies on fire ant populations is currently unknown. In the laboratory, we show that an average phorid density of as little as one attacking fly per 200 foraging ants decreased colony protein consumption nearly twofold and significantly reduced numbers of large-sized workers 50 days later. The high impact of a single phorid occurred mainly because ants decreased foraging rates in the presence of the flies. Our experiments, the first (to our knowledge) to link indirect and direct effects of phorids on fire ants, demonstrate that colonies can be stressed with surprisingly low parasitoid densities. We interpret our findings with regard to the more complex fire ant-phorid interactions in the field. PMID:12204130

  20. Fire Ant Allergy

    MedlinePlus

    ... In extreme cases, a rapid fall in blood pressure may result in shock and loss of consciousness. Symptoms of anaphylaxis require emergency medical treatment. Given the severity of a potential reaction, an accurate diagnosis for fire ant allergy is key to being prepared for ...

  1. Tiny, Powerful, Awesome Ants!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Tate, Kathleen

    2007-01-01

    Peering through a thematic science lens--elementary students embarked on a one-week study of ants during a month-long summer school program. This integrated unit addressed reading and writing skills while developing the science-process skills of observation, inferring, and communicating in a motivating and authentic way. Pre- and post-assessments…

  2. Ant allergens and hypersensitivity reactions in response to ant stings.

    PubMed

    Potiwat, Rutcharin; Sitcharungsi, Raweerat

    2015-12-01

    Hypersensitivity reactions caused by ant stings are increasingly recognized as an important cause of death by anaphylaxis. Only some species of ants ( e.g. Solenopsis spp., Myrmecia spp., and Pachycondyla spp.) cause allergic reactions. Ant species are identified by evaluating the morphologic structures of worker ants or by molecular techniques. Ant venom contains substances, including acids and alkaloids, that cause toxic reactions, and those from Solenopsis invicta or the imported fire ant have been widely studied. Piperidine alkaloids and low protein contents can cause local reactions (sterile pustules) and systemic reactions (anaphylaxis). Imported fire ant venoms are cross-reactive; for example, the Sol i 1 allergen from S. invicta has cross-reactivity with yellow jacket phospholipase. The Sol i 3 allergen is a member of the antigen 5 family that has amino acid sequence identity with vespid antigen 5. The clinical presentations of ant hypersensitivity are categorized into immediate and delayed reactions: immediate reactions, such as small local reactions, large local reactions, and systemic reactions, occur within 1-4 hours after the ant stings, whereas delayed reactions, such as serum sickness and vasculitis, usually occur more than 4 hours after the stings. Tools for the diagnosis of ant hypersensitivity are skin testing, serum specific IgE, and sting challenge tests. Management of ant hypersensitivity can be divided into immediate (epinephrine, corticosteroids), symptomatic (antihistamines, bronchodilators), supportive (fluid resuscitation, oxygen therapy), and preventive (re-sting avoidance and immunotherapy) treatments.

  3. Ant allergens and hypersensitivity reactions in response to ant stings.

    PubMed

    Potiwat, Rutcharin; Sitcharungsi, Raweerat

    2015-12-01

    Hypersensitivity reactions caused by ant stings are increasingly recognized as an important cause of death by anaphylaxis. Only some species of ants ( e.g. Solenopsis spp., Myrmecia spp., and Pachycondyla spp.) cause allergic reactions. Ant species are identified by evaluating the morphologic structures of worker ants or by molecular techniques. Ant venom contains substances, including acids and alkaloids, that cause toxic reactions, and those from Solenopsis invicta or the imported fire ant have been widely studied. Piperidine alkaloids and low protein contents can cause local reactions (sterile pustules) and systemic reactions (anaphylaxis). Imported fire ant venoms are cross-reactive; for example, the Sol i 1 allergen from S. invicta has cross-reactivity with yellow jacket phospholipase. The Sol i 3 allergen is a member of the antigen 5 family that has amino acid sequence identity with vespid antigen 5. The clinical presentations of ant hypersensitivity are categorized into immediate and delayed reactions: immediate reactions, such as small local reactions, large local reactions, and systemic reactions, occur within 1-4 hours after the ant stings, whereas delayed reactions, such as serum sickness and vasculitis, usually occur more than 4 hours after the stings. Tools for the diagnosis of ant hypersensitivity are skin testing, serum specific IgE, and sting challenge tests. Management of ant hypersensitivity can be divided into immediate (epinephrine, corticosteroids), symptomatic (antihistamines, bronchodilators), supportive (fluid resuscitation, oxygen therapy), and preventive (re-sting avoidance and immunotherapy) treatments. PMID:26708389

  4. Recruitment strategies and colony size in ants.

    PubMed

    Planqué, Robert; van den Berg, Jan Bouwe; Franks, Nigel R

    2010-01-01

    Ants use a great variety of recruitment methods to forage for food or find new nests, including tandem running, group recruitment and scent trails. It has been known for some time that there is a loose correlation across many taxa between species-specific mature colony size and recruitment method. Very small colonies tend to use solitary foraging; small to medium sized colonies use tandem running or group recruitment whereas larger colonies use pheromone recruitment trails. Until now, explanations for this correlation have focused on the ants' ecology, such as food resource distribution. However, many species have colonies with a single queen and workforces that grow over several orders of magnitude, and little is known about how a colony's organization, including recruitment methods, may change during its growth. After all, recruitment involves interactions between ants, and hence the size of the colony itself may influence which recruitment method is used--even if the ants' behavioural repertoire remains unchanged. Here we show using mathematical models that the observed correlation can also be explained by recognizing that failure rates in recruitment depend differently on colony size in various recruitment strategies. Our models focus on the build up of recruiter numbers inside colonies and are not based on optimality arguments, such as maximizing food yield. We predict that ant colonies of a certain size should use only one recruitment method (and always the same one) rather than a mix of two or more. These results highlight the importance of the organization of recruitment and how it is affected by colony size. Hence these results should also expand our understanding of ant ecology. PMID:20694195

  5. Electric ants: A cross-disciplinary approach to understanding insect behavior

    SciTech Connect

    Slowik, T.J.; Thorvilson, H.G.; Green, B.L.

    1996-12-31

    The response and attraction of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, to electrical equipment was examined using an interdisciplinary approach. Entomologists specializing in fire ant behavior combined expertise with electrical engineers to investigate the economically damaging interaction of fire ants with electrical circuitry. Knowledge from the realms of physics, engineering, and biology were integrated in experimentation to test for a fire ant response to electric fields and magnetic fields associated with electrical equipment. It was determined that fire ants react to electrified conductive material and the alternating-current magnetic fields associated with electricity.

  6. Ant-mediated seed dispersal in a warmed world

    PubMed Central

    Patterson, Courtney M.; Rodriguez-Cabal, Mariano A.; Ribbons, Relena R.; Dunn, Robert R.; Sanders, Nathan J.

    2014-01-01

    Climate change affects communities both directly and indirectly via changes in interspecific interactions. One such interaction that may be altered under climate change is the ant-plant seed dispersal mutualism common in deciduous forests of eastern North America. As climatic warming alters the abundance and activity levels of ants, the potential exists for shifts in rates of ant-mediated seed dispersal. We used an experimental temperature manipulation at two sites in the eastern US (Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and Duke Forest in North Carolina) to examine the potential impacts of climatic warming on overall rates of seed dispersal (using Asarum canadense seeds) as well as species-specific rates of seed dispersal at the Duke Forest site. We also examined the relationship between ant critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the mean seed removal temperature for each ant species. We found that seed removal rates did not change as a result of experimental warming at either study site, nor were there any changes in species-specific rates of seed dispersal. There was, however, a positive relationship between CTmax and mean seed removal temperature, whereby species with higher CTmax removed more seeds at hotter temperatures. The temperature at which seeds were removed was influenced by experimental warming as well as diurnal and day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that while temperature may play a role in regulating seed removal by ants, ant plant seed-dispersal mutualisms may be more robust to climate change than currently assumed. PMID:24688863

  7. Ant-mediated seed dispersal in a warmed world.

    PubMed

    Stuble, Katharine L; Patterson, Courtney M; Rodriguez-Cabal, Mariano A; Ribbons, Relena R; Dunn, Robert R; Sanders, Nathan J

    2014-01-01

    Climate change affects communities both directly and indirectly via changes in interspecific interactions. One such interaction that may be altered under climate change is the ant-plant seed dispersal mutualism common in deciduous forests of eastern North America. As climatic warming alters the abundance and activity levels of ants, the potential exists for shifts in rates of ant-mediated seed dispersal. We used an experimental temperature manipulation at two sites in the eastern US (Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and Duke Forest in North Carolina) to examine the potential impacts of climatic warming on overall rates of seed dispersal (using Asarum canadense seeds) as well as species-specific rates of seed dispersal at the Duke Forest site. We also examined the relationship between ant critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the mean seed removal temperature for each ant species. We found that seed removal rates did not change as a result of experimental warming at either study site, nor were there any changes in species-specific rates of seed dispersal. There was, however, a positive relationship between CTmax and mean seed removal temperature, whereby species with higher CTmax removed more seeds at hotter temperatures. The temperature at which seeds were removed was influenced by experimental warming as well as diurnal and day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that while temperature may play a role in regulating seed removal by ants, ant plant seed-dispersal mutualisms may be more robust to climate change than currently assumed. PMID:24688863

  8. Ant-mediated seed dispersal in a warmed world.

    PubMed

    Stuble, Katharine L; Patterson, Courtney M; Rodriguez-Cabal, Mariano A; Ribbons, Relena R; Dunn, Robert R; Sanders, Nathan J

    2014-01-01

    Climate change affects communities both directly and indirectly via changes in interspecific interactions. One such interaction that may be altered under climate change is the ant-plant seed dispersal mutualism common in deciduous forests of eastern North America. As climatic warming alters the abundance and activity levels of ants, the potential exists for shifts in rates of ant-mediated seed dispersal. We used an experimental temperature manipulation at two sites in the eastern US (Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and Duke Forest in North Carolina) to examine the potential impacts of climatic warming on overall rates of seed dispersal (using Asarum canadense seeds) as well as species-specific rates of seed dispersal at the Duke Forest site. We also examined the relationship between ant critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the mean seed removal temperature for each ant species. We found that seed removal rates did not change as a result of experimental warming at either study site, nor were there any changes in species-specific rates of seed dispersal. There was, however, a positive relationship between CTmax and mean seed removal temperature, whereby species with higher CTmax removed more seeds at hotter temperatures. The temperature at which seeds were removed was influenced by experimental warming as well as diurnal and day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that while temperature may play a role in regulating seed removal by ants, ant plant seed-dispersal mutualisms may be more robust to climate change than currently assumed.

  9. Ants and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    LaPolla, John S; Dlussky, Gennady M; Perrichot, Vincent

    2013-01-01

    The dominance of ants in the terrestrial biosphere has few equals among animals today, but this was not always the case. The oldest ants appear in the fossil record 100 million years ago, but given the scarcity of their fossils, it is presumed they were relatively minor components of Mesozoic insect life. The ant fossil record consists of two primary types of fossils, each with inherent biases: as imprints in rock and as inclusions in fossilized resins (amber). New imaging technology allows ancient ant fossils to be examined in ways never before possible. This is particularly helpful because it can be difficult to distinguish true ants from non-ants in Mesozoic fossils. Fossil discoveries continue to inform our understanding of ancient ant morphological diversity, as well as provide insights into their paleobiology.

  10. The origin of the attine ant-fungus mutualism.

    PubMed

    Mueller, U G; Schultz, T R; Currie, C R; Adams, R M; Malloch, D

    2001-06-01

    Cultivation of fungus for food originated about 45-65 million years ago in the ancestor of fungus-growing ants (Formicidae, tribe Attini), representing an evolutionary transition from the life of a hunter-gatherer of arthropod prey, nectar, and other plant juices, to the life of a farmer subsisting on cultivated fungi. Seven hypotheses have been suggested for the origin of attine fungiculture, each differing with respect to the substrate used by the ancestral attine ants for fungal cultivation. Phylogenetic information on the cultivated fungi, in conjunction with information on the nesting biology of extant attine ants and their presumed closest relatives, reveal that the attine ancestors probably did not encounter their cultivars-to-be in seed stores (von Ihering 1894), in rotting wood (Forel 1902), as mycorrhizae (Garling 1979), on arthropod corpses (von Ihering 1894) or ant faeces in nest middens (Wheeler 1907). Rather, the attine ant-fungus mutualism probably arose from adventitious interactions with fungi that grew on walls of nests built in leaf litter (Emery 1899), or from a system of fungal myrmecochory in which specialized fungi relied on ants for dispersal (Bailey 1920) and in which the ants fortuitously vectored these fungi from parent to offspring nests prior to a true fungicultural stage. Reliance on fungi as a dominant food source has evolved only twice in ants: first in the attine ants, and second in some ant species in the solenopsidine genus Megalomyrmex that either coexist as trophic parasites in gardens of attine hosts or aggressively usurp gardens from them. All other known ant-fungus associations are either adventitious or have nonnutritional functions (e.g., strengthening of carton-walls in ant nests). There exist no unambiguous reports of facultative mycophagy in ants, but such trophic ant-fungus interactions would most likely occur underground or in leaf litter and thus escape easy observation. Indirect evidence of fungivory can be deduced

  11. Forest edges and fire ants alter the seed shadow of an ant-dispersed plant.

    PubMed

    Ness, J H

    2004-02-01

    Exotic species invade fragmented, edge-rich habitats readily, yet the distinct impacts of habitat edges and invaders on native biota are rarely distinguished. Both appear detrimental to ant-dispersed plants such as bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis. Working in northeastern Georgia (USA), an area characterized by a rich ant-dispersed flora, fragmented forests, and invasions by the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, I monitored the interactions between ants and S. canadensis seeds in uninvaded forest interiors, uninvaded forest edges, invaded forest interiors, and invaded forest edges. I observed 95% of the seed dispersal events that occurred within the 60-min observation intervals. Seed collection rates were similar among all four (habitat x invasion) groups. The presence of invasive ants had a strong effect on seed dispersal distance: S. invicta collected most seeds in invaded sites, but was a poorer disperser than four of five native ant taxa. Habitat type (interior versus edge) had no effect on seed dispersal distance, but it had a strong effect on seed dispersal direction. Dispersal towards the edge was disproportionately rare in uninvaded forest edges, and ants in those habitats moved the average dispersed seed approximately 70 cm away from that edge. Dispersal direction was also skewed away from the edge in uninvaded forest interiors and invaded forest edges, albeit non-significantly. This biased dispersal may help explain the rarity of myrmecochorous plants in younger forests and edges, and their poor ability to disperse between fragments. This is the first demonstration that forest edges and S. invicta invasion influence seed dispersal destination and distance, respectively. These forces act independently.

  12. No sex in fungus-farming ants or their crops.

    PubMed

    Himler, Anna G; Caldera, Eric J; Baer, Boris C; Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Mueller, Ulrich G

    2009-07-22

    Asexual reproduction imposes evolutionary handicaps on asexual species, rendering them prone to extinction, because asexual reproduction generates novel genotypes and purges deleterious mutations at lower rates than sexual reproduction. Here, we report the first case of complete asexuality in ants, the fungus-growing ant Mycocepurus smithii, where queens reproduce asexually but workers are sterile, which is doubly enigmatic because the clonal colonies of M. smithii also depend on clonal fungi for food. Degenerate female mating anatomy, extensive field and laboratory surveys, and DNA fingerprinting implicate complete asexuality in this widespread ant species. Maternally inherited bacteria (e.g. Wolbachia, Cardinium) and the fungal cultivars can be ruled out as agents inducing asexuality. M. smithii societies of clonal females provide a unique system to test theories of parent-offspring conflict and reproductive policing in social insects. Asexuality of both ant farmer and fungal crop challenges traditional views proposing that sexual farmer ants outpace coevolving sexual crop pathogens, and thus compensate for vulnerabilities of their asexual crops. Either the double asexuality of both farmer and crop may permit the host to fully exploit advantages of asexuality for unknown reasons or frequent switching between crops (symbiont reassociation) generates novel ant-fungus combinations, which may compensate for any evolutionary handicaps of asexuality in M. smithii.

  13. Reciprocal genomic evolution in the ant-fungus agricultural symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Nygaard, Sanne; Hu, Haofu; Li, Cai; Schiøtt, Morten; Chen, Zhensheng; Yang, Zhikai; Xie, Qiaolin; Ma, Chunyu; Deng, Yuan; Dikow, Rebecca B; Rabeling, Christian; Nash, David R; Wcislo, William T; Brady, Seán G; Schultz, Ted R; Zhang, Guojie; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2016-01-01

    The attine ant-fungus agricultural symbiosis evolved over tens of millions of years, producing complex societies with industrial-scale farming analogous to that of humans. Here we document reciprocal shifts in the genomes and transcriptomes of seven fungus-farming ant species and their fungal cultivars. We show that ant subsistence farming probably originated in the early Tertiary (55-60 MYA), followed by further transitions to the farming of fully domesticated cultivars and leaf-cutting, both arising earlier than previously estimated. Evolutionary modifications in the ants include unprecedented rates of genome-wide structural rearrangement, early loss of arginine biosynthesis and positive selection on chitinase pathways. Modifications of fungal cultivars include loss of a key ligninase domain, changes in chitin synthesis and a reduction in carbohydrate-degrading enzymes as the ants gradually transitioned to functional herbivory. In contrast to human farming, increasing dependence on a single cultivar lineage appears to have been essential to the origin of industrial-scale ant agriculture. PMID:27436133

  14. Kin-informative recognition cues in ants.

    PubMed

    Nehring, Volker; Evison, Sophie E F; Santorelli, Lorenzo A; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Hughes, William O H

    2011-07-01

    Although social groups are characterized by cooperation, they are also often the scene of conflict. In non-clonal systems, the reproductive interests of group members will differ and individuals may benefit by exploiting the cooperative efforts of other group members. However, such selfish behaviour is thought to be rare in one of the classic examples of cooperation--social insect colonies--because the colony-level costs of individual selfishness select against cues that would allow workers to recognize their closest relatives. In accord with this, previous studies of wasps and ants have found little or no kin information in recognition cues. Here, we test the hypothesis that social insects do not have kin-informative recognition cues by investigating the recognition cues and relatedness of workers from four colonies of the ant Acromyrmex octospinosus. Contrary to the theoretical prediction, we show that the cuticular hydrocarbons of ant workers in all four colonies are informative enough to allow full-sisters to be distinguished from half-sisters with a high accuracy. These results contradict the hypothesis of non-heritable recognition cues and suggest that there is more potential for within-colony conflicts in genetically diverse societies than previously thought.

  15. Pretender punishment induced by chemical signalling in a queenless ant.

    PubMed

    Monnin, Thibaud; Ratnieks, Francis L W; Jones, Graeme R; Beard, Richard

    2002-09-01

    Animal societies are stages for both conflict and cooperation. Reproduction is often monopolized by one or a few individuals who behave aggressively to prevent subordinates from reproducing (for example, naked mole-rats, wasps and ants). Here we report an unusual mechanism by which the dominant individual maintains reproductive control. In the queenless ant Dinoponera quadriceps, only the alpha female reproduces. If the alpha is challenged by another female she chemically marks the pretender who is then punished by low-ranking females. This cooperation between alpha and low-rankers allows the alpha to inflict punishment indirectly, thereby maintaining her reproductive primacy without having to fight. PMID:12214231

  16. Alkaloid venom weaponry of three Megalomyrmex thief ants and the behavioral response of Cyphomyrmex costatus host ants.

    PubMed

    Adams, Rachelle M M; Jones, Tappey H; Longino, John T; Weatherford, Robert G; Mueller, Ulrich G

    2015-04-01

    Social parasites exploit other societies by invading and stealing resources. Some enter protected nests using offensive chemical weaponry made from alkaloid-based venom. We characterized the venoms of three Megalomyrmex thief ant species (M. mondabora, M. mondaboroides, and M. silvestrii) that parasitize the fungus-growing ants, and developed an ethogram to describe host ant reactions to raiding M. mondaboroides and M. silvestrii parasites. We compared piperidine, pyrrolidine, and pyrolizidine venom alkaloid structures with synthetic samples from previous studies, and describe the novel stereochemistry of trans 2-hexyl-5-[8-oxononyl]-pyrrolidine (3) from M. mondabora. We showed that workers of Cyphomyrmex costatus, the host of M. mondaboroides and M. silvestrii, react to a sting by Megalomyrmex parasites mainly with submissive behavior, playing dead or retreating. Host submission also followed brief antennal contact. The behavior of C. costatus ants observed in this study was similar to that of Cyphomyrmex cornutus, host of M. mondabora, suggesting that the alkaloidal venoms with pyrrolidines from M. mondabora, piperidines from M. mondaboroides, and pyrolizidines from M. silvestrii may function similarly as appeasement and repellent allomones against host ants, despite their different chemical structure. With the use of these chemical weapons, the Megalomyrmex thief ants are met with little host resistance and easily exploit host colony resources.

  17. Alkaloid venom weaponry of three Megalomyrmex thief ants and the behavioral response of Cyphomyrmex costatus host ants.

    PubMed

    Adams, Rachelle M M; Jones, Tappey H; Longino, John T; Weatherford, Robert G; Mueller, Ulrich G

    2015-04-01

    Social parasites exploit other societies by invading and stealing resources. Some enter protected nests using offensive chemical weaponry made from alkaloid-based venom. We characterized the venoms of three Megalomyrmex thief ant species (M. mondabora, M. mondaboroides, and M. silvestrii) that parasitize the fungus-growing ants, and developed an ethogram to describe host ant reactions to raiding M. mondaboroides and M. silvestrii parasites. We compared piperidine, pyrrolidine, and pyrolizidine venom alkaloid structures with synthetic samples from previous studies, and describe the novel stereochemistry of trans 2-hexyl-5-[8-oxononyl]-pyrrolidine (3) from M. mondabora. We showed that workers of Cyphomyrmex costatus, the host of M. mondaboroides and M. silvestrii, react to a sting by Megalomyrmex parasites mainly with submissive behavior, playing dead or retreating. Host submission also followed brief antennal contact. The behavior of C. costatus ants observed in this study was similar to that of Cyphomyrmex cornutus, host of M. mondabora, suggesting that the alkaloidal venoms with pyrrolidines from M. mondabora, piperidines from M. mondaboroides, and pyrolizidines from M. silvestrii may function similarly as appeasement and repellent allomones against host ants, despite their different chemical structure. With the use of these chemical weapons, the Megalomyrmex thief ants are met with little host resistance and easily exploit host colony resources. PMID:25833216

  18. Distributed nestmate recognition in ants

    PubMed Central

    Esponda, Fernando; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2015-01-01

    We propose a distributed model of nestmate recognition, analogous to the one used by the vertebrate immune system, in which colony response results from the diverse reactions of many ants. The model describes how individual behaviour produces colony response to non-nestmates. No single ant knows the odour identity of the colony. Instead, colony identity is defined collectively by all the ants in the colony. Each ant responds to the odour of other ants by reference to its own unique decision boundary, which is a result of its experience of encounters with other ants. Each ant thus recognizes a particular set of chemical profiles as being those of non-nestmates. This model predicts, as experimental results have shown, that the outcome of behavioural assays is likely to be variable, that it depends on the number of ants tested, that response to non-nestmates changes over time and that it changes in response to the experience of individual ants. A distributed system allows a colony to identify non-nestmates without requiring that all individuals have the same complete information and helps to facilitate the tracking of changes in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, because only a subset of ants must respond to provide an adequate response. PMID:25833853

  19. Distributed nestmate recognition in ants.

    PubMed

    Esponda, Fernando; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-05-01

    We propose a distributed model of nestmate recognition, analogous to the one used by the vertebrate immune system, in which colony response results from the diverse reactions of many ants. The model describes how individual behaviour produces colony response to non-nestmates. No single ant knows the odour identity of the colony. Instead, colony identity is defined collectively by all the ants in the colony. Each ant responds to the odour of other ants by reference to its own unique decision boundary, which is a result of its experience of encounters with other ants. Each ant thus recognizes a particular set of chemical profiles as being those of non-nestmates. This model predicts, as experimental results have shown, that the outcome of behavioural assays is likely to be variable, that it depends on the number of ants tested, that response to non-nestmates changes over time and that it changes in response to the experience of individual ants. A distributed system allows a colony to identify non-nestmates without requiring that all individuals have the same complete information and helps to facilitate the tracking of changes in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, because only a subset of ants must respond to provide an adequate response.

  20. A novel interference behaviour: invasive wasps remove ants from resources and drop them from a height

    PubMed Central

    Grangier, Julien; Lester, Philip J.

    2011-01-01

    This study reports a novel form of interference behaviour between the invasive wasp Vespula vulgaris and the New Zealand native ant Prolasius advenus. By videotaping interactions at bait stations, we found that wasps commonly remove ant competitors from food resources by picking up the workers in their mandibles, flying backward and dropping them unharmed some distance from the food. Both the frequency and the efficiency of the wasp behaviour significantly increased with the abundance of ant competitors. Ant removals were the most common interference events initiated by wasps when ants were numerous, while intraspecific conflicts among wasps were prominent when few ants were present. The ‘ant-dropping’ behaviour emphasizes how asymmetry in body sizes between competitors can lead to a pronounced form of interference, related to asymmetric locomotion modes. PMID:21450726

  1. Studying the Complex Communities of Ants and Their Symbionts Using Ecological Network Analysis.

    PubMed

    Ivens, Aniek B F; von Beeren, Christoph; Blüthgen, Nico; Kronauer, Daniel J C

    2016-01-01

    Ant colonies provide well-protected and resource-rich environments for a plethora of symbionts. Historically, most studies of ants and their symbionts have had a narrow taxonomic scope, often focusing on a single ant or symbiont species. Here we discuss the prospects of studying these assemblies in a community ecology context using the framework of ecological network analysis. We introduce three basic network metrics that we consider particularly relevant for improving our knowledge of ant-symbiont communities: interaction specificity, network modularity, and phylogenetic signal. We then discuss army ant symbionts as examples of large and primarily parasitic communities, and symbiotic sternorrhynchans as examples of generally smaller and primarily mutualistic communities in the context of these network analyses. We argue that this approach will provide new and complementary insights into the evolutionary and ecological dynamics between ants and their many associates, and will facilitate comparisons across different ant-symbiont assemblages as well as across different types of ecological networks.

  2. Postsecretory hydrolysis of nectar sucrose and specialization in ant/plant mutualism.

    PubMed

    Heil, M; Rattke, J; Boland, W

    2005-04-22

    Obligate Acacia ant plants house mutualistic ants as a defense mechanism and provide them with extrafloral nectar (EFN). Ant/plant mutualisms are widespread, but little is known about the biochemical basis of their species specificity. Despite its importance in these and other plant/animal interactions, little attention has been paid to the control of the chemical composition of nectar. We found high invertase (sucrose-cleaving) activity in Acacia EFN, which thus contained no sucrose. Sucrose, a disaccharide common in other EFNs, usually attracts nonsymbiotic ants. The EFN of the ant acacias was therefore unattractive to such ants. The Pseudomyrmex ants that are specialized to live on Acacia had almost no invertase activity in their digestive tracts and preferred sucrose-free EFN. Our results demonstrate postsecretory regulation of the carbohydrate composition of nectar.

  3. Specialization and group size: brain and behavioural correlates of colony size in ants lacking morphological castes

    PubMed Central

    Amador-Vargas, Sabrina; Gronenberg, Wulfila; Wcislo, William T.; Mueller, Ulrich

    2015-01-01

    Group size in both multicellular organisms and animal societies can correlate with the degree of division of labour. For ants, the task specialization hypothesis (TSH) proposes that increased behavioural specialization enabled by larger group size corresponds to anatomical specialization of worker brains. Alternatively, the social brain hypothesis proposes that increased levels of social stimuli in larger colonies lead to enlarged brain regions in all workers, regardless of their task specialization. We tested these hypotheses in acacia ants (Pseudomyrmex spinicola), which exhibit behavioural but not morphological task specialization. In wild colonies, we marked, followed and tested ant workers involved in foraging tasks on the leaves (leaf-ants) and in defensive tasks on the host tree trunk (trunk-ants). Task specialization increased with colony size, especially in defensive tasks. The relationship between colony size and brain region volume was task-dependent, supporting the TSH. Specifically, as colony size increased, the relative size of regions within the mushroom bodies of the brain decreased in trunk-ants but increased in leaf-ants; those regions play important roles in learning and memory. Our findings suggest that workers specialized in defence may have reduced learning abilities relative to leaf-ants; these inferences remain to be tested. In societies with monomorphic workers, brain polymorphism enhanced by group size could be a mechanism by which division of labour is achieved. PMID:25567649

  4. Specialization and group size: brain and behavioural correlates of colony size in ants lacking morphological castes.

    PubMed

    Amador-Vargas, Sabrina; Gronenberg, Wulfila; Wcislo, William T; Mueller, Ulrich

    2015-02-22

    Group size in both multicellular organisms and animal societies can correlate with the degree of division of labour. For ants, the task specialization hypothesis (TSH) proposes that increased behavioural specialization enabled by larger group size corresponds to anatomical specialization of worker brains. Alternatively, the social brain hypothesis proposes that increased levels of social stimuli in larger colonies lead to enlarged brain regions in all workers, regardless of their task specialization. We tested these hypotheses in acacia ants (Pseudomyrmex spinicola), which exhibit behavioural but not morphological task specialization. In wild colonies, we marked, followed and tested ant workers involved in foraging tasks on the leaves (leaf-ants) and in defensive tasks on the host tree trunk (trunk-ants). Task specialization increased with colony size, especially in defensive tasks. The relationship between colony size and brain region volume was task-dependent, supporting the TSH. Specifically, as colony size increased, the relative size of regions within the mushroom bodies of the brain decreased in trunk-ants but increased in leaf-ants; those regions play important roles in learning and memory. Our findings suggest that workers specialized in defence may have reduced learning abilities relative to leaf-ants; these inferences remain to be tested. In societies with monomorphic workers, brain polymorphism enhanced by group size could be a mechanism by which division of labour is achieved.

  5. Stridulations Reveal Cryptic Speciation in Neotropical Sympatric Ants

    PubMed Central

    Ferreira, Ronara Souza; Poteaux, Chantal; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Fresneau, Dominique; Rybak, Fanny

    2010-01-01

    The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species underlines the importance of using multiple criteria in species delimitation. In the current paper we tested the use of acoustic analysis as a tool to assess the real diversity in a cryptic species complex of Neotropical ants. In order to understand the potential of acoustics and to improve consistency in the conclusions by comparing different approaches, phylogenetic relationships of all the morphs considered were assessed by the analysis of a fragment of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b. We observed that each of the cryptic morph studied presents a morphologically distinct stridulatory organ and that all sympatric morphs produce distinctive stridulations. This is the first evidence of such a degree of specialization in the acoustic organ and signals in ants, which suggests that stridulations may be among the cues used by these ants during inter-specific interactions. Mitochondrial DNA variation corroborated the acoustic differences observed, confirming acoustics as a helpful tool to determine cryptic species in this group of ants, and possibly in stridulating ants in general. Congruent morphological, acoustic and genetic results constitute sufficient evidence to propose each morph studied here as a valid new species, suggesting that P. apicalis is a complex of at least 6 to 9 species, even if they present different levels of divergence. Finally, our results highlight that ant stridulations may be much more informative than hitherto thought, as much for ant communication as for integrative taxonomists. PMID:21203529

  6. Cotton Rats Alter Foraging in Response to an Invasive Ant

    PubMed Central

    Darracq, Andrea K.; Conner, L. Mike; Brown, Joel S.; McCleery, Robert A.

    2016-01-01

    We assessed the effects of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta; hereafter fire ant) on the foraging of hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus). We used a manipulative experiment, placing resource patches with a known amount of millet seed within areas with reduced (RIFA [–]) or ambient (RIFA [+]) numbers of fire ants. We measured giving up densities (the amount of food left within each patch) within the resource patches for 4 days to quantify the effects of fire ants on cotton rat foraging. We assessed the effects of fire ant treatment (RIFA), Day, and their interaction on cotton rat giving up densities. Giving up densities on RIFA [+] grids were nearly 2.2 times greater across all foraging days and ranged from 1.6 to 2.3 times greater from day 1 to day 4 than the RIFA [–] grids. From day 1 to day 4, mean giving up densities decreased significantly faster for the RIFA [–] than RIFA [+] treatments, 58% and 13%, respectively. Our results demonstrate that cotton rats perceive a risk of injury from fire ants, which is likely caused by interference competition, rather than direct predation. Envenomation from ants likely decrease the foraging efficiency of cotton rats resulting in more time spent foraging. Increased time spent foraging is likely stressful in terms of the opportunity for direct injury and encounters with other predators. These indirect effects may reduce an individual cotton rat’s fitness and translate into lowered population abundances. PMID:27655320

  7. Wasps robbing food from ants: a frequent behavior?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lapierre, Louis; Hespenheide, Henry; Dejean, Alain

    2007-12-01

    Food robbing, or cleptobiosis, has been well documented throughout the animal kingdom. For insects, intrafamilial food robbing is known among ants, but social wasps (Vespidae; Polistinae) taking food from ants has, to the best of our knowledge, never been reported. In this paper, we present two cases involving social wasps robbing food from ants associated with myrmecophytes. (1) Polybioides tabida F. (Ropalidiini) rob pieces of prey from Tetraponera aethiops Smith (Formicidae; Pseudomyrmecinae) specifically associated with Barteria fistulosa Mast. (Passifloraceae). (2) Charterginus spp. (Epiponini) rob food bodies from myrmecophytic Cecropia (Cecropiaceae) exploited by their Azteca mutualists (Formicidae; Dolichoderinae) or by opportunistic ants (that also attack cleptobiotic wasps). We note here that wasps gather food bodies (1) when ants are not yet active; (2) when ants are active, but avoiding any contact with them by flying off when attacked; and (3) through the coordinated efforts of two to five wasps, wherein one of them prevents the ants from leaving their nest, while the other wasps freely gather the food bodies. We suggest that these interactions are more common than previously thought.

  8. A model for collective dynamics in ant raids.

    PubMed

    Ryan, Shawn D

    2016-05-01

    Ant raiding, the process of identifying and returning food to the nest or bivouac, is a fascinating example of collective motion in nature. During such raids ants lay pheromones to form trails for others to find a food source. In this work a coupled PDE/ODE model is introduced to study ant dynamics and pheromone concentration. The key idea is the introduction of two forms of ant dynamics: foraging and returning, each governed by different environmental and social cues. The model accounts for all aspects of the raiding cycle including local collisional interactions, the laying of pheromone along a trail, and the transition from one class of ants to another. Through analysis of an order parameter measuring the orientational order in the system, the model shows self-organization into a collective state consisting of lanes of ants moving in opposite directions as well as the transition back to the individual state once the food source is depleted matching prior experimental results. This indicates that in the absence of direct communication ants naturally form an efficient method for transporting food to the nest/bivouac. The model exhibits a continuous kinetic phase transition in the order parameter as a function of certain system parameters. The associated critical exponents are found, shedding light on the behavior of the system near the transition. PMID:26304617

  9. Stridulations reveal cryptic speciation in neotropical sympatric ants.

    PubMed

    Ferreira, Ronara Souza; Poteaux, Chantal; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Fresneau, Dominique; Rybak, Fanny

    2010-12-22

    The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species underlines the importance of using multiple criteria in species delimitation. In the current paper we tested the use of acoustic analysis as a tool to assess the real diversity in a cryptic species complex of Neotropical ants. In order to understand the potential of acoustics and to improve consistency in the conclusions by comparing different approaches, phylogenetic relationships of all the morphs considered were assessed by the analysis of a fragment of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b. We observed that each of the cryptic morph studied presents a morphologically distinct stridulatory organ and that all sympatric morphs produce distinctive stridulations. This is the first evidence of such a degree of specialization in the acoustic organ and signals in ants, which suggests that stridulations may be among the cues used by these ants during inter-specific interactions. Mitochondrial DNA variation corroborated the acoustic differences observed, confirming acoustics as a helpful tool to determine cryptic species in this group of ants, and possibly in stridulating ants in general. Congruent morphological, acoustic and genetic results constitute sufficient evidence to propose each morph studied here as a valid new species, suggesting that P. apicalis is a complex of at least 6 to 9 species, even if they present different levels of divergence. Finally, our results highlight that ant stridulations may be much more informative than hitherto thought, as much for ant communication as for integrative taxonomists.

  10. Indirect benefits of symbiotic coccoids for an ant-defended myrmecophytic tree.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Elizabeth G; Dirzo, Rodolfo; Gordon, Deborah M

    2011-01-01

    The net benefits of mutualism depend directly on the costs and effectiveness of mutualistic services and indirectly on the interactions that affect those services. We examined interactions among Cordia alliodora myrmecophytic trees, their symbiotic ants Azteca pittieri, coccoid hemipterans, and foliar herbivores in two Neotropical dry forests. The tree makes two investments in symbiotic ants: it supplies nesting space, as domatia, and it provides phloem to coccoids, which then produce honeydew that is consumed by ants. Although higher densities of coccoids should have higher direct costs for trees, we asked whether higher densities of coccoids can also have higher indirect benefits for trees by increasing the effectiveness of ant defense against foliar herbivores. We found that trees benefited from ant defense against herbivores. Ants defended trees effectively only when colonies reached high densities within trees, and ant and coccoid densities within trees were strongly positively correlated. The benefits of reduced foliar herbivory by larger ant colonies were therefore indirectly controlled by the number of coccoids. Coccoid honeydew supply also affected per capita ant aggression against tree herbivores. Ants experimentally fed a carbohydrate-rich diet, analogous to sugar obtained from coccoids, were more aggressive against caterpillars per capita than ants fed a carbohydrate-poor diet. Ant defense was more effective on more valuable and vulnerable young leaves than on older leaves. Young domatia, associated with young leaves, contained higher coccoid densities than older domatia, which suggests that coccoids may also drive spatially favorable ant defense of the tree. If higher investments by one mutualistic partner are tied to higher benefits received from the other, there may be positive feedback between partners that will stabilize the mutualism. These results suggest that higher investment by trees in coccoids leads to more effective defense by ants against

  11. Science and Society Colloquium

    ScienceCinema

    None

    2016-07-12

    Mr. Randi will give an update of his lecture to the American Physical Society on the occasion of his award of the 1989 Forum Prize. The citation said: "for his unique defense of Science and the scientific method in many disciplines, including physics, against pseudoscience, frauds and charlatans. His use of scientific techniques has contributed to refuting suspicious and fraudulent claims of paranormal results. He has contributed significantly to public understanding of important issues where science and society interact". He is a professional magician and author of many books. He worked with John Maddox, the Editor of Nature to investigate the claims of "water with memory".

  12. Science and Society Colloquium

    SciTech Connect

    2008-03-10

    Mr. Randi will give an update of his lecture to the American Physical Society on the occasion of his award of the 1989 Forum Prize. The citation said: "for his unique defense of Science and the scientific method in many disciplines, including physics, against pseudoscience, frauds and charlatans. His use of scientific techniques has contributed to refuting suspicious and fraudulent claims of paranormal results. He has contributed significantly to public understanding of important issues where science and society interact". He is a professional magician and author of many books. He worked with John Maddox, the Editor of Nature to investigate the claims of "water with memory".

  13. Parasitoid secretions provoke ant warfare.

    PubMed

    Thomas, J A; Knapp, J J; Akino, T; Gerty, S; Wakamura, S; Simcox, D J; Wardlaw, J C; Elmes, G W

    2002-05-30

    Insect social parasites are extreme specialists that typically use mimicry or stealth to enter ant colonies to exploit the rich, but fiercely protected, resources within their nests. Here we show how a parasitic wasp (parasitoid) contrives to reach its host, itself an endangered species of social parasite that lives inside the brood chambers of ant nests, by releasing semiochemicals to induce in-fighting between worker ants, locking the colony in combat and leaving it underprotected. Four of these chemicals are new to biology and have the potential to control pest species by inducing different agonistic behaviours in ants. PMID:12037556

  14. Ants have a negative rather than a positive effect on extrafloral nectaried Crotalaria pallida performance

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pereira, Marcela Fernandes; Trigo, José Roberto

    2013-08-01

    Crotalaria pallida (Fabaceae) is a pantropical plant with extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) near the reproductive structures. EFN-visiting ants attack and remove arctiid moth Utetheisa ornatrix larvae, the main pre-dispersal seed predator, but the impact of ants on C. pallida fitness is unknown. To assess this impact, we controlled ant presence on plants and evaluated the reproductive output of C. pallida with and without ants. Predatory wasps also visit EFNs, prey upon U. ornatrix larvae, and may be driven out by ants during EFN feeding. Does this agonistic interaction affect the multitrophic interaction outcome? We found it difficult to evaluate the effect of both visitors because cages excluding wasps affect plant growth and do not allow U. ornatrix oviposition. Therefore, we verified whether ant presence inhibited wasp EFN visitation and predicted that (1) if ants confer a benefit for C. pallida, any negative effect of ants on wasps would be negligible for the plant because ants would be the best guardians, and (2) if ants are poor guardians, they would negatively affect wasps and negatively impact the fitness of C. pallida. Surprisingly, we found that the number of seeds/pods significantly increased, ca. 4.7 times, after ant removal. Additionally, we unexpectedly verified that controls showed a higher percentage of herbivore bored pods than ant-excluded plants. We found that wasps spent less time visiting EFNs patrolled by ants (ca. 299 s less). These results support our second prediction and suggest that the outcome of multitrophic interactions may vary with natural enemy actors.

  15. Seed odor mediates an obligate ant-plant mutualism in Amazonian rainforests.

    PubMed

    Youngsteadt, Elsa; Nojima, Satoshi; Häberlein, Christopher; Schulz, Stefan; Schal, Coby

    2008-03-25

    Seed dispersal mutualisms are essential for the survival of diverse plant species and communities worldwide. Among invertebrates, only ants have a major role in seed dispersal, and thousands of plant species produce seeds specialized for ant dispersal in "diffuse" multispecies interactions. An outstanding but poorly understood ant-seed mutualism occurs in the Amazonian rainforest, where arboreal ants collect seeds of several epiphyte species and cultivate them in nutrient-rich nests, forming abundant and conspicuous hanging gardens known as ant-gardens (AGs). AG ants and plants are dominant members of lowland Amazonian ecosystems, and their interaction is both specific and obligate, but the means by which ants locate, recognize, and accept their mutualist seeds while rejecting other seeds is unknown. Here we address the chemical and behavioral basis of the AG interaction. We show that workers of the AG ant Camponotus femoratus are attracted to odorants emanating from seeds of the AG plant Peperomia macrostachya, and that chemical cues also elicit seed-carrying behavior. We identify five compounds from P. macrostachya seeds that, as a blend, attract C. femoratus workers. This report of attractive odorants from ant-dispersed seeds illustrates the intimacy and complexity of the AG mutualism and begins to illuminate the chemical basis of this important and enigmatic interaction. PMID:18212122

  16. Bacterial community composition and diversity in an ancestral ant fungus symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Kellner, Katrin; Ishak, Heather D; Linksvayer, Timothy A; Mueller, Ulrich G

    2015-07-01

    Fungus-farming ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae, Attini) exhibit some of the most complex microbial symbioses because both macroscopic partners (ants and fungus) are associated with a rich community of microorganisms. The ant and fungal microbiomes are thought to serve important beneficial nutritional and defensive roles in these symbioses. While most recent research has investigated the bacterial communities in the higher attines (e.g. the leaf-cutter ant genera Atta and Acromyrmex), which are often associated with antibiotic-producing Actinobacteria, very little is known about the microbial communities in basal lineages, labeled as 'lower attines', which retain the ancestral traits of smaller and more simple societies. In this study, we used 16S amplicon pyrosequencing to characterize bacterial communities of the lower attine ant Mycocepurus smithii among seven sampling sites in central Panama. We discovered that ant and fungus garden-associated microbiota were distinct from surrounding soil, but unlike the situation in the derived fungus-gardening ants, which show distinct ant and fungal microbiomes, microbial community structure of the ants and their fungi were similar. Another surprising finding was that the abundance of actinomycete bacteria was low and instead, these symbioses were characterized by an abundance of Lactobacillus and Pantoea bacteria. Furthermore, our data indicate that Lactobacillus strains are acquired from the environment rather than acquired vertically. PMID:26113689

  17. Fire ant microsporidia acquired by parasitoid flies of fire ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The microsporidium Kneallhazia (formerly Thelohania) solenopsae and parasitoid flies in the genus Pseudacteon are natural enemies of the invasive fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Pseudacteon flies oviposit into adult fire ants, where maggots that eclose from eggs migrate to the ants’ head, pupate, and...

  18. Water stress strengthens mutualism among ants, trees, and scale insects.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Elizabeth G; Akçay, Erol; Raab, Ted K; Dirzo, Rodolfo; Gordon, Deborah M

    2013-11-01

    Abiotic environmental variables strongly affect the outcomes of species interactions. For example, mutualistic interactions between species are often stronger when resources are limited. The effect might be indirect: water stress on plants can lead to carbon stress, which could alter carbon-mediated plant mutualisms. In mutualistic ant-plant symbioses, plants host ant colonies that defend them against herbivores. Here we show that the partners' investments in a widespread ant-plant symbiosis increase with water stress across 26 sites along a Mesoamerican precipitation gradient. At lower precipitation levels, Cordia alliodora trees invest more carbon in Azteca ants via phloem-feeding scale insects that provide the ants with sugars, and the ants provide better defense of the carbon-producing leaves. Under water stress, the trees have smaller carbon pools. A model of the carbon trade-offs for the mutualistic partners shows that the observed strategies can arise from the carbon costs of rare but extreme events of herbivory in the rainy season. Thus, water limitation, together with the risk of herbivory, increases the strength of a carbon-based mutualism.

  19. World-wide satellite night-light data as a proxy of society-hydrology interaction and vulnerability to flood risk

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ceola, S.; Laio, F.; Montanari, A.

    2013-12-01

    The study and the analysis of the interactions and feedbacks between hydrology and society constitute the main issue of socio-hydrology. Recent flood events, which occurred across the globe, highlighted once again that mitigation strategies are needed to reduce flood risk. In particular, quick procedures for the identification of vulnerable human settlements and flood prone areas are a necessary tool to identify priorities for flood risk management. To this aim, a 19-year long period of world-wide night light data, as a proxy of human population, and the global river network have been examined. The spatio-temporal evolution of artificial luminosity depending on the distance from the river network has been assessed in order to quantitatively identify the likelihood for a populated pixel to be reached by water. The analysis focuses both on a global and on a local scale. Hotspots, such as highly illuminated areas and developing regions, have been also examined. The analysis shows an increment of yearly-averaged artificial luminosity from 1992 to 2010 (i.e. the time period of satellite data availability), whereas light intensity tends to decrease with increasing distance from the river network. The results thus reveal an increased vulnerability of human settlements to flooding events. A nearly 70-year long period of peace and the economic development after the Second World War could reasonably explain the observed enhancement of human population proximity to water bodies.

  20. Exploration versus exploitation in polydomous ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Cook, Zoe; Franks, Daniel W; Robinson, Elva J H

    2013-04-21

    In socially foraging species resource information can be shared between individuals, increasing foraging success. In ant colonies, nestmate recruitment allows high exploitation rates at known resources however, to maximise foraging efficiency this must be balanced with searching for new resources. Many ant species form colonies inhabiting two or more spatially separated but socially connected nests: this type of organisation is known as polydomy. Polydomous colonies may benefit from increased foraging efficiency by carrying out dispersed-central place foraging. However, decentralisation of the colony may affect recruitment success by limiting interaction between ants based in separate nests. We use an agent-based model which compares the foraging success of monodomous and polydomous colonies in different food environments, incorporating recruitment through pheromone trails and group foraging. In contrast to previous results we show that polydomy is beneficial in some but not all cases. Polydomous colonies discover resources at a higher rate, making them more successful when food is highly dispersed, but their relative success can be lowered by limitations on recruitment success. Monodomous colonies can have higher foraging efficiency than polydomous colonies by exploiting food more rapidly. The results show the importance of interactions between recruitment strategy, colony size, and colony organisation. PMID:23380232

  1. Cryptozoology Society

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Richman, Barbara T.

    Reports of Loch Ness monsters, Bigfoot, and the Yeti spring u p from time to time, sparking scientific controversy about the veracity of these observations. Now an organization has been established to help cull, analyze, and disseminate information on the alleged creatures. The International Society of Cryptozoology, formed at a January meeting at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, will serve as the focal point for the investigation, analysis, publication, and discussion of animals of unexpected form or size or of unexpected occurrences in time or space.

  2. Moribund ants leave their nests to die in social isolation.

    PubMed

    Heinze, Jürgen; Walter, Bartosz

    2010-02-01

    Animal societies provide perfect conditions for the spread of infections and are therefore expected to employ mechanisms that reduce the probability of transmitting pathogens to group members [1-4]. Death in nature rarely results from old age but commonly results from diseases. Leaving one's group to die in seclusion might be an efficient way of minimizing the risk of infecting kin. Anecdotal observations of moribund individuals deserting from their groups exist for several species, including humans (e.g., [5]), but have rarely been substantiated by quantitative analysis. Furthermore, to confirm that dying in solitude has evolved because of its altruistic benefits requires refuting the alternative explanation of pathogen manipulation of host behavior. Here we show that workers of the ant Temnothorax unifasciatus dying from fungal infection, uninfected workers whose life expectancy was reduced by exposure to 95% CO(2)[6, 7], and workers dying spontaneously in observation colonies exhibited the same suite of behavior of isolating themselves from their nestmates days or hours before death. Actively leaving the nest and breaking off all social interactions thus occurred regardless of whether individuals were infected or not. Social withdrawal might be a commonly overlooked altruistic trait serving the inclusive fitness interests of dying individuals in social animals.

  3. Stigmergic construction and topochemical information shape ant nest architecture.

    PubMed

    Khuong, Anaïs; Gautrais, Jacques; Perna, Andrea; Sbaï, Chaker; Combe, Maud; Kuntz, Pascale; Jost, Christian; Theraulaz, Guy

    2016-02-01

    The nests of social insects are not only impressive because of their sheer complexity but also because they are built from individuals whose work is not centrally coordinated. A key question is how groups of insects coordinate their building actions. Here, we use a combination of experimental and modeling approaches to investigate nest construction in the ant Lasius niger. We quantify the construction dynamics and the 3D structures built by ants. Then, we characterize individual behaviors and the interactions of ants with the structures they build. We show that two main interactions are involved in the coordination of building actions: (i) a stigmergic-based interaction that controls the amplification of depositions at some locations and is attributable to a pheromone added by ants to the building material; and (ii) a template-based interaction in which ants use their body size as a cue to control the height at which they start to build a roof from existing pillars. We then develop a 3D stochastic model based on these individual behaviors to analyze the effect of pheromone presence and strength on construction dynamics. We show that the model can quantitatively reproduce key features of construction dynamics, including a large-scale pattern of regularly spaced pillars, the formation and merging of caps over the pillars, and the remodeling of built structures. Finally, our model suggests that the lifetime of the pheromone is a highly influential parameter that controls the growth and form of nest architecture.

  4. Stigmergic construction and topochemical information shape ant nest architecture.

    PubMed

    Khuong, Anaïs; Gautrais, Jacques; Perna, Andrea; Sbaï, Chaker; Combe, Maud; Kuntz, Pascale; Jost, Christian; Theraulaz, Guy

    2016-02-01

    The nests of social insects are not only impressive because of their sheer complexity but also because they are built from individuals whose work is not centrally coordinated. A key question is how groups of insects coordinate their building actions. Here, we use a combination of experimental and modeling approaches to investigate nest construction in the ant Lasius niger. We quantify the construction dynamics and the 3D structures built by ants. Then, we characterize individual behaviors and the interactions of ants with the structures they build. We show that two main interactions are involved in the coordination of building actions: (i) a stigmergic-based interaction that controls the amplification of depositions at some locations and is attributable to a pheromone added by ants to the building material; and (ii) a template-based interaction in which ants use their body size as a cue to control the height at which they start to build a roof from existing pillars. We then develop a 3D stochastic model based on these individual behaviors to analyze the effect of pheromone presence and strength on construction dynamics. We show that the model can quantitatively reproduce key features of construction dynamics, including a large-scale pattern of regularly spaced pillars, the formation and merging of caps over the pillars, and the remodeling of built structures. Finally, our model suggests that the lifetime of the pheromone is a highly influential parameter that controls the growth and form of nest architecture. PMID:26787857

  5. Stigmergic construction and topochemical information shape ant nest architecture

    PubMed Central

    Khuong, Anaïs; Gautrais, Jacques; Perna, Andrea; Sbaï, Chaker; Combe, Maud; Kuntz, Pascale; Jost, Christian; Theraulaz, Guy

    2016-01-01

    The nests of social insects are not only impressive because of their sheer complexity but also because they are built from individuals whose work is not centrally coordinated. A key question is how groups of insects coordinate their building actions. Here, we use a combination of experimental and modeling approaches to investigate nest construction in the ant Lasius niger. We quantify the construction dynamics and the 3D structures built by ants. Then, we characterize individual behaviors and the interactions of ants with the structures they build. We show that two main interactions are involved in the coordination of building actions: (i) a stigmergic-based interaction that controls the amplification of depositions at some locations and is attributable to a pheromone added by ants to the building material; and (ii) a template-based interaction in which ants use their body size as a cue to control the height at which they start to build a roof from existing pillars. We then develop a 3D stochastic model based on these individual behaviors to analyze the effect of pheromone presence and strength on construction dynamics. We show that the model can quantitatively reproduce key features of construction dynamics, including a large-scale pattern of regularly spaced pillars, the formation and merging of caps over the pillars, and the remodeling of built structures. Finally, our model suggests that the lifetime of the pheromone is a highly influential parameter that controls the growth and form of nest architecture. PMID:26787857

  6. Competition can lead to unexpected patterns in tropical ant communities

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ellwood, M. D. Farnon; Blüthgen, Nico; Fayle, Tom M.; Foster, William A.; Menzel, Florian

    2016-08-01

    Ecological communities are structured by competitive, predatory, mutualistic and parasitic interactions combined with chance events. Separating deterministic from stochastic processes is possible, but finding statistical evidence for specific biological interactions is challenging. We attempt to solve this problem for ant communities nesting in epiphytic bird's nest ferns (Asplenium nidus) in Borneo's lowland rainforest. By recording the frequencies with which each and every single ant species occurred together, we were able to test statistically for patterns associated with interspecific competition. We found evidence for competition, but the resulting co-occurrence pattern was the opposite of what we expected. Rather than detecting species segregation-the classical hallmark of competition-we found species aggregation. Moreover, our approach of testing individual pairwise interactions mostly revealed spatially positive rather than negative associations. Significant negative interactions were only detected among large ants, and among species of the subfamily Ponerinae. Remarkably, the results from this study, and from a corroborating analysis of ant communities known to be structured by competition, suggest that competition within the ants leads to species aggregation rather than segregation. We believe this unexpected result is linked with the displacement of species following asymmetric competition. We conclude that analysing co-occurrence frequencies across complete species assemblages, separately for each species, and for each unique pairwise combination of species, represents a subtle yet powerful way of detecting structure and compartmentalisation in ecological communities.

  7. Communal nutrition in ants.

    PubMed

    Dussutour, Audrey; Simpson, Stephen J

    2009-05-12

    Studies on nonsocial insects have elucidated the regulatory strategies employed to meet nutritional demands [1-3]. However, how social insects maintain the supply of an appropriate balance of nutrients at both a collective and an individual level remains unknown. Sociality complicates nutritional regulatory strategies [4-6]. First, the food entering a colony is collected by a small number of workers, which need to adjust their harvesting strategy to the demands for nutrients among individuals within the colony [4-7]. Second, because carbohydrates are used by the workers and proteins consumed by the larvae [7-14], nutritional feedbacks emanating from both must exist and be integrated to determine food exploitation by foragers [4-6, 15, 16]. Here, we show that foraging ants can solve nutritional challenges for the colony by making intricate adjustments to their feeding behavior and nutrient processing, acting both as a collective mouth and gut. The amount and balance of nutrients collected and the precision of regulation depend on the presence of larvae in the colony. Ants improved the macronutrient balance of collected foods by extracting carbohydrates and ejecting proteins. Nevertheless, processing excess protein shortened life span--an effect that was greatly ameliorated in the presence of larvae.

  8. Autonomy in ants and humans.

    PubMed

    Carpendale, Jeremy I M; Frayn, Michael

    2016-01-01

    Drawing lessons regarding the consequences of ultrasociality in ants and humans depends crucially on recognizing differences as well as similarities in the way that species are social. We focus on Gowdy & Krall's use of the concept of autonomy to explicate essential differences in the ways in which ants and humans are social. PMID:27562193

  9. Temperature: Human Regulating, Ants Conforming

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Clopton, Joe R.

    2007-01-01

    Biological processes speed up as temperature rises. Procedures for demonstrating this with ants traveling on trails, and data gathered by students on the Argentine ant ("Linepithema humile") are presented. The concepts of temperature regulation and conformity are detailed with a focus on the processes rather than on terms that label the organisms.

  10. Dominance Hierarchies in Leptothorax Ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cole, Blaine J.

    1981-04-01

    The social organization of Leptothorax allardycei is unique among ant species thus far studied. The workers form linear dominance hierarchies characterized by routine displays of dominance, avoidance behavior, and even fighting. The high-ranking ants are favored in liquid food exchange, have greater ovarian development, and produce 20 percent of the eggs.

  11. Ant navigation: reading geometrical signposts.

    PubMed

    Collett, Thomas S; Waxman, David

    2005-03-01

    Ants often travel along complex pheromone trail systems between their nest and foraging areas. A new and surprising discovery is that Pharaoh's ants can work out from the geometry of individual branch points on the trail whether they are heading towards or away from the nest. PMID:15753029

  12. Specialized myrmecophily at the ecological dawn of modern ants.

    PubMed

    Parker, Joseph; Grimaldi, David A

    2014-10-20

    Myrmecophiles--species that depend on ant societies--include some of the most morphologically and behaviorally specialized animals known. Remarkable adaptive characters enable these creatures to bypass fortress-like security, integrate into colony life, and exploit abundant resources and protection inside ant nests. Such innovations must result from intimate coevolution with hosts, but a scarcity of definitive fossil myrmecophiles obscures when and how this lifestyle arose. Here, we report the earliest known morphologically specialized and apparently obligate myrmecophile, in Early Eocene (∼ 52 million years old) Cambay amber from India. Protoclaviger trichodens gen. et sp. nov. is a stem-group member of Clavigeritae, a speciose supertribe of pselaphine rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) heavily modified for myrmecophily via reduced mouthparts for trophallaxis with worker ants, brush-like trichomes that exude appeasement compounds, and fusions of many body and antennal segments. Protoclaviger captures a transitional stage in the evolutionary development of this novel body plan, most evident in its still-distinct abdominal tergites. The Cambay paleobiota marks one of the first occurrences in the fossil record of a significant presence of modern ants. Protoclaviger reveals that sophisticated social parasites were nest intruders throughout, and probably before, the ascent of ants to ecological dominance, with ancient groups such as Clavigeritae primed to radiate as their hosts became increasingly ubiquitous.

  13. Trail geometry gives polarity to ant foraging networks.

    PubMed

    Jackson, Duncan E; Holcombe, Mike; Ratnieks, Francis L W

    2004-12-16

    Pheromone trails are used by many ants to guide foragers between nest and food. But how does a forager that has become displaced from a trail know which way to go on rejoining the trail? A laden forager, for example, should walk towards the nest. Polarized trails would enable ants to choose the appropriate direction, thereby saving time and reducing predation risk. However, previous research has found no evidence that ants can detect polarity from the pheromone trail alone. Pharaoh's ants (Monomorium pharaonis) produce elaborate trail networks throughout their foraging environment. Here we show that by using information from the geometry of trail bifurcations within this network, foragers joining a trail can adaptively reorientate themselves if they initially walk in the wrong direction. The frequency of correct reorientations is maximized when the trail bifurcation angle is approximately 60 degrees, as found in natural networks. These are the first data to demonstrate how ant trails can themselves provide polarity information. They also demonstrate previously unsuspected sophistication in the organization and information content of networks in insect societies. PMID:15602563

  14. Temporal Variation in the Abundance and Richness of Foliage-Dwelling Ants Mediated by Extrafloral Nectar.

    PubMed

    Belchior, Ceres; Sendoya, Sebastián F; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2016-01-01

    Plants bearing extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) are common in the Brazilian cerrado savanna, where climatic conditions having marked seasonality influence arboreal ant fauna organization. These ant-plant interactions have rarely been studied at community level. Here, we tested whether: 1) EFN-bearing plants are more visited by ants than EFN-lacking plants; 2) ant visitation is higher in the rainy season than in dry season; 3) plants producing young leaves are more visited than those lacking young leaves in the rainy season; 4) during the dry season, plants with old leaves and flowers are more visited than plants with young leaves and bare of leaves or flowers; 5) the composition of visiting ant fauna differs between plants with and without EFNs. Field work was done in a cerrado reserve near Uberlândia, MG State, Brazil, along ten transects (total area 3,000 m2), in the rainy (October-January) and dry seasons (April-July) of 2010-2011. Plants (72 species; 762 individuals) were checked three times per season for ant presence. Results showed that 21 species (29%) and 266 individuals (35%) possessed EFNs. These plants attracted 38 ant species (36 in rainy, 26 in dry season). In the rainy season, plants with EFNs had higher ant abundance/richness than plants without EFNs, but in the dry season, EFN presence did not influence ant visitation. Plant phenology affected ant richness and abundance in different ways: plants with young leaves possessed higher ant richness in the rainy season, but in the dry season ant abundance was higher on plants possessing old leaves or flowers. The species composition of plant-associated ant communities, however, did not differ between plants with and without EFNs in either season. These findings suggest that the effect of EFN presence on a community of plant-visiting ants is context dependent, being conditioned to seasonal variation. PMID:27438722

  15. Temporal Variation in the Abundance and Richness of Foliage-Dwelling Ants Mediated by Extrafloral Nectar

    PubMed Central

    Belchior, Ceres; Sendoya, Sebastián F.

    2016-01-01

    Plants bearing extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) are common in the Brazilian cerrado savanna, where climatic conditions having marked seasonality influence arboreal ant fauna organization. These ant-plant interactions have rarely been studied at community level. Here, we tested whether: 1) EFN-bearing plants are more visited by ants than EFN-lacking plants; 2) ant visitation is higher in the rainy season than in dry season; 3) plants producing young leaves are more visited than those lacking young leaves in the rainy season; 4) during the dry season, plants with old leaves and flowers are more visited than plants with young leaves and bare of leaves or flowers; 5) the composition of visiting ant fauna differs between plants with and without EFNs. Field work was done in a cerrado reserve near Uberlândia, MG State, Brazil, along ten transects (total area 3,000 m2), in the rainy (October-January) and dry seasons (April-July) of 2010–2011. Plants (72 species; 762 individuals) were checked three times per season for ant presence. Results showed that 21 species (29%) and 266 individuals (35%) possessed EFNs. These plants attracted 38 ant species (36 in rainy, 26 in dry season). In the rainy season, plants with EFNs had higher ant abundance/richness than plants without EFNs, but in the dry season, EFN presence did not influence ant visitation. Plant phenology affected ant richness and abundance in different ways: plants with young leaves possessed higher ant richness in the rainy season, but in the dry season ant abundance was higher on plants possessing old leaves or flowers. The species composition of plant-associated ant communities, however, did not differ between plants with and without EFNs in either season. These findings suggest that the effect of EFN presence on a community of plant-visiting ants is context dependent, being conditioned to seasonal variation. PMID:27438722

  16. Social isolation and brain development in the ant Camponotus floridanus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Seid, Marc A.; Junge, Erich

    2016-06-01

    Social interactions play a key role in the healthy development of social animals and are most pronounced in species with complex social networks. When developing offspring do not receive proper social interaction, they show developmental impairments. This effect is well documented in mammalian species but controversial in social insects. It has been hypothesized that the enlargement of the mushroom bodies, responsible for learning and memory, observed in social insects is needed for maintaining the large social networks and/or task allocation. This study examines the impact of social isolation on the development of mushroom bodies of the ant Camponotus floridanus. Ants raised in isolation were shown to exhibit impairment in the growth of the mushroom bodies as well as behavioral differences when compared to ants raised in social groups. These results indicate that social interaction is necessary for the proper development of C. floridanus mushroom bodies.

  17. Social isolation and brain development in the ant Camponotus floridanus.

    PubMed

    Seid, Marc A; Junge, Erich

    2016-06-01

    Social interactions play a key role in the healthy development of social animals and are most pronounced in species with complex social networks. When developing offspring do not receive proper social interaction, they show developmental impairments. This effect is well documented in mammalian species but controversial in social insects. It has been hypothesized that the enlargement of the mushroom bodies, responsible for learning and memory, observed in social insects is needed for maintaining the large social networks and/or task allocation. This study examines the impact of social isolation on the development of mushroom bodies of the ant Camponotus floridanus. Ants raised in isolation were shown to exhibit impairment in the growth of the mushroom bodies as well as behavioral differences when compared to ants raised in social groups. These results indicate that social interaction is necessary for the proper development of C. floridanus mushroom bodies. PMID:27126402

  18. The role of tending ants in host plant selection and egg parasitism of two facultative myrmecophilous butterflies.

    PubMed

    Bächtold, Alexandra; Alves-Silva, Estevão; Kaminski, Lucas A; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2014-11-01

    Ovipositing adult females of myrmecophilous lycaenids are expected to select plants based on ant presence in order to maximize the survivorship of immature stages. Usually, larvae feed ants with honey-like solutions and, in turn, ants ward off parasitoids. Nonetheless, a rarely investigated approach is whether ant partners can also extend their protective behavior towards lycaenids eggs. Here, we investigated the ant-related oviposition pattern of Allosmaitia strophius and Rekoa marius; then, we compared egg parasitism according to the presence of ants. Lycaenid oviposition and egg parasitism (in percent) were experimentally compared in ant-present and ant-excluded treatments. The study plant, Heteropterys byrsonimifolia, is an extrafloral nectaried shrub which supports several ant species. We sampled 280 eggs, of which 39.65 % belonged to A. strophius and 60.35 % to R. marius. Both lycaenids eggs were significantly more abundant on branches with ants, especially those with Camponotus crassus and Camponotus blandus, two ant species known to attend to lycaenids. A. strophius and R. marius parasitism was 4.5- and 2.4-fold higher, respectively, in ant-present treatments, but the results were not statistically significant. Our study shows that ant-mediated host plant selection in lycaenids might be much more widespread than previously thought, and not restricted to obligate myrmecophilous species. Tending ants may be inefficient bodyguards of lycaenid eggs, because unlike larvae which release sugared liquids, eggs do not offer obvious rewards to ants. Ants can ward off parasitoids of larvae, as observed elsewhere, but our findings show that positive ant-lycaenid interactions are conditional and depend on immature ontogeny.

  19. Ant nestmate and non-nestmate discrimination by a chemosensory sensillum.

    PubMed

    Ozaki, Mamiko; Wada-Katsumata, Ayako; Fujikawa, Kazuyo; Iwasaki, Masayuki; Yokohari, Fumio; Satoji, Yuji; Nisimura, Tomoyosi; Yamaoka, Ryohei

    2005-07-01

    In animal societies, chemical communication plays an important role in conflict and cooperation. For ants, cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) blends produced by non-nestmates elicit overt aggression. We describe a sensory sensillum on the antennae of the carpenter ant Camponotus japonicus that functions in nestmate discrimination. This sensillum is multiporous and responds only to non-nestmate CHC blends. This suggests a role for a peripheral recognition mechanism in detecting colony-specific chemical signals.

  20. Ant nestmate and non-nestmate discrimination by a chemosensory sensillum.

    PubMed

    Ozaki, Mamiko; Wada-Katsumata, Ayako; Fujikawa, Kazuyo; Iwasaki, Masayuki; Yokohari, Fumio; Satoji, Yuji; Nisimura, Tomoyosi; Yamaoka, Ryohei

    2005-07-01

    In animal societies, chemical communication plays an important role in conflict and cooperation. For ants, cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) blends produced by non-nestmates elicit overt aggression. We describe a sensory sensillum on the antennae of the carpenter ant Camponotus japonicus that functions in nestmate discrimination. This sensillum is multiporous and responds only to non-nestmate CHC blends. This suggests a role for a peripheral recognition mechanism in detecting colony-specific chemical signals. PMID:15947139

  1. AntR-mediated bidirectional activation of antA and antR, anthranilate degradative genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

    PubMed

    Kim, Soo-Kyoung; Im, Su-Jin; Yeom, Doo-Hwan; Lee, Joon-Hee

    2012-08-15

    Bidirectional activation of transcription is a peculiar regulation mode of gene expression. In this study, we show that genes involved in the metabolism of anthranilate, a precursor of biosynthesis of tryptophan and Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) are regulated by this bidirectional activation of transcription. Anthranilate is degraded by anthranilate dioxygenase complex encoded by antABC operon, and AntR, a LysR-type regulator encoded by antR activates the transcription of antABC operon in the presence of anthranilate. In P. aeruginosa, antABC and antR are divergently located and AntR binds to the intergenic region between antA and antR to activate the antABC transcription. In this study, we determined the transcriptional start site of the antA promoter (antA(p)) and AntR-responsive elements (AREs) in P. aeruginosa. The upstream deletion analysis of antA(p) and in vitro gel shift assay with purified AntR showed that there are two AREs at -194 to -148 and -88 to -47 regions. We also found that AntR activates antR promoter (antR(p)) in the opposite direction and both AREs are important in the bidirectional activation of antA(p) and antR(p). Two AREs have different binding affinities to AntR and the strength of transcriptional activation was dramatically asymmetric depending on the direction. We suggest that the different affinities of two AREs may explain the asymmetry of the bidirectional activation by AntR. PMID:22609066

  2. Evolution, museums and society.

    PubMed

    MacFadden, Bruce J

    2008-11-01

    Visitors to natural history museums have an incomplete understanding of evolution. Although they are relatively knowledgeable about fossils and geological time, they have a poor understanding of natural selection. Museums in the 21st century can effectively increase public understanding of evolution through interactive displays, novel content (e.g. genomics), engaging videos and cyberexhibits that communicate to a broad spectrum of society, both within the exhibit halls as well as outside the museum.

  3. Individual-Based Ant-Plant Networks: Diurnal-Nocturnal Structure and Species-Area Relationship

    PubMed Central

    Dáttilo, Wesley; Fagundes, Roberth; Gurka, Carlos A. Q.; Silva, Mara S. A.; Vieira, Marisa C. L.; Izzo, Thiago J.; Díaz-Castelazo, Cecília; Del-Claro, Kleber; Rico-Gray, Victor

    2014-01-01

    Despite the importance and increasing knowledge of ecological networks, sampling effort and intrapopulation variation has been widely overlooked. Using continuous daily sampling of ants visiting three plant species in the Brazilian Neotropical savanna, we evaluated for the first time the topological structure over 24 h and species-area relationships (based on the number of extrafloral nectaries available) in individual-based ant-plant networks. We observed that diurnal and nocturnal ant-plant networks exhibited the same pattern of interactions: a nested and non-modular pattern and an average level of network specialization. Despite the high similarity in the ants’ composition between the two collection periods, ant species found in the central core of highly interacting species totally changed between diurnal and nocturnal sampling for all plant species. In other words, this “night-turnover” suggests that the ecological dynamics of these ant-plant interactions can be temporally partitioned (day and night) at a small spatial scale. Thus, it is possible that in some cases processes shaping mutualistic networks formed by protective ants and plants may be underestimated by diurnal sampling alone. Moreover, we did not observe any effect of the number of extrafloral nectaries on ant richness and their foraging on such plants in any of the studied ant-plant networks. We hypothesize that competitively superior ants could monopolize individual plants and allow the coexistence of only a few other ant species, however, other alternative hypotheses are also discussed. Thus, sampling period and species-area relationship produces basic information that increases our confidence in how individual-based ant-plant networks are structured, and the need to consider nocturnal records in ant-plant network sampling design so as to decrease inappropriate inferences. PMID:24918750

  4. A Systematic Review of Global Drivers of Ant Elevational Diversity.

    PubMed

    Szewczyk, Tim; McCain, Christy M

    2016-01-01

    Ant diversity shows a variety of patterns across elevational gradients, though the patterns and drivers have not been evaluated comprehensively. In this systematic review and reanalysis, we use published data on ant elevational diversity to detail the observed patterns and to test the predictions and interactions of four major diversity hypotheses: thermal energy, the mid-domain effect, area, and the elevational climate model. Of sixty-seven published datasets from the literature, only those with standardized, comprehensive sampling were used. Datasets included both local and regional ant diversity and spanned 80° in latitude across six biogeographical provinces. We used a combination of simulations, linear regressions, and non-parametric statistics to test multiple quantitative predictions of each hypothesis. We used an environmentally and geometrically constrained model as well as multiple regression to test their interactions. Ant diversity showed three distinct patterns across elevations: most common were hump-shaped mid-elevation peaks in diversity, followed by low-elevation plateaus and monotonic decreases in the number of ant species. The elevational climate model, which proposes that temperature and precipitation jointly drive diversity, and area were partially supported as independent drivers. Thermal energy and the mid-domain effect were not supported as primary drivers of ant diversity globally. The interaction models supported the influence of multiple drivers, though not a consistent set. In contrast to many vertebrate taxa, global ant elevational diversity patterns appear more complex, with the best environmental model contingent on precipitation levels. Differences in ecology and natural history among taxa may be crucial to the processes influencing broad-scale diversity patterns. PMID:27175999

  5. A Systematic Review of Global Drivers of Ant Elevational Diversity

    PubMed Central

    Szewczyk, Tim; McCain, Christy M.

    2016-01-01

    Ant diversity shows a variety of patterns across elevational gradients, though the patterns and drivers have not been evaluated comprehensively. In this systematic review and reanalysis, we use published data on ant elevational diversity to detail the observed patterns and to test the predictions and interactions of four major diversity hypotheses: thermal energy, the mid-domain effect, area, and the elevational climate model. Of sixty-seven published datasets from the literature, only those with standardized, comprehensive sampling were used. Datasets included both local and regional ant diversity and spanned 80° in latitude across six biogeographical provinces. We used a combination of simulations, linear regressions, and non-parametric statistics to test multiple quantitative predictions of each hypothesis. We used an environmentally and geometrically constrained model as well as multiple regression to test their interactions. Ant diversity showed three distinct patterns across elevations: most common were hump-shaped mid-elevation peaks in diversity, followed by low-elevation plateaus and monotonic decreases in the number of ant species. The elevational climate model, which proposes that temperature and precipitation jointly drive diversity, and area were partially supported as independent drivers. Thermal energy and the mid-domain effect were not supported as primary drivers of ant diversity globally. The interaction models supported the influence of multiple drivers, though not a consistent set. In contrast to many vertebrate taxa, global ant elevational diversity patterns appear more complex, with the best environmental model contingent on precipitation levels. Differences in ecology and natural history among taxa may be crucial to the processes influencing broad-scale diversity patterns. PMID:27175999

  6. Rapid modification in the olfactory signal of ants following a change in reproductive status

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cuvillier-Hot, Virginie; Renault, Valérie; Peeters, Christian

    2005-02-01

    In insect societies, the presence and condition of egg-layers can be assessed with pheromones. Exocrine secretions are expected to vary in time in order to give up-to-date information on an individual’s reproductive physiology. In the queenless monogynous ant Streblognathus peetersi, we allowed a previously infertile high-ranking worker to accede to the alpha rank, thus triggering the onset of her oogenesis (15 replicates). We then studied her interactions with an established egg-layer from the same colony after different durations, ranging from 20 h to several days. Even though her eggs are only ready to be laid after 30 days, the new alpha was recognised within 1 2 days. Detection occurred at a distance of a few millimetres, suggesting the involvement of a pheromone with low volatility, such as cuticular hydrocarbons. When the new alpha had differentiated for >48 h, she was attacked by the established egg-layer. In all cases, low-ranking workers eventually immobilised one of the two alphas: the new alpha was the target if she had differentiated only recently, suggesting that police workers select the dominant worker with the “less fertile” odour. Using the behaviour of ants as our measure, we demonstrate that a dominant’s olfactory signal changes rapidly with a modification in her social status, and it occurs well before the onset of egg-laying.

  7. Rapid modification in the olfactory signal of ants following a change in reproductive status.

    PubMed

    Cuvillier-Hot, Virginie; Renault, Valérie; Peeters, Christian

    2005-02-01

    In insect societies, the presence and condition of egg-layers can be assessed with pheromones. Exocrine secretions are expected to vary in time in order to give up-to-date information on an individual's reproductive physiology. In the queenless monogynous ant Streblognathus peetersi, we allowed a previously infertile high-ranking worker to accede to the alpha rank, thus triggering the onset of her oogenesis (15 replicates). We then studied her interactions with an established egg-layer from the same colony after different durations, ranging from 20 h to several days. Even though her eggs are only ready to be laid after 30 days, the new alpha was recognised within 1-2 days. Detection occurred at a distance of a few millimetres, suggesting the involvement of a pheromone with low volatility, such as cuticular hydrocarbons. When the new alpha had differentiated for >48 h, she was attacked by the established egg-layer. In all cases, low-ranking workers eventually immobilised one of the two alphas: the new alpha was the target if she had differentiated only recently, suggesting that police workers select the dominant worker with the "less fertile" odour. Using the behaviour of ants as our measure, we demonstrate that a dominant's olfactory signal changes rapidly with a modification in her social status, and it occurs well before the onset of egg-laying. PMID:15700164

  8. Fluvial landscapes - human societies interactions during the last 2000 years: the Middle Loire River and its embanking since the Middle Ages (France)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Castanet, Cyril; Carcaud, Nathalie

    2015-04-01

    This research deals with the study of fluvial landscapes, heavily and precociously transformed by societies (fluvial anthroposystems). It aims to characterize i), fluvial responses to climate, environmental and anthropogenic changes ii), history of hydraulical constructions relative to rivers iii), history of fluvial origin risks and their management - (Program: AGES Ancient Geomorphological EvolutionS of the Loire River hydrosystem). The Middle Loire River valley in the Val d'Orléans was strongly and precociously occupied, particularly during historical periods. Hydrosedimentary flows are there irregular. The river dykes were built during the Middle Ages (dykes named turcies) and the Modern Period, but ages and localizations of the oldest dykes were not precisely known. A systemic and multi-scaled approach aimed to characterize i), palaeo-hydrographical, -hydrological and -hydraulical evolutions of the Loire River, fluvial risks (palaeo-hazards and -vulnerabilities) and their management. It is based on an integrated approach, in and out archaeological sites: morpho-stratigraphy, sedimentology, geophysics, geochemistry, geomatics, geochronology, archaeology. Spatio-temporal variability of fluvial hazards is characterized. A model of the Loire River fluvial activity is developed: multicentennial scale variability, with higher fluvial activity episodes during the Gallo-Roman period, IX-XIth centuries and LIA. Fluvial patterns changes are indentified. Settlement dynamics and hydraulical constructions of the valley are specified. We establish the ages and localizations of the oldest discovered dikes of the Middle Loire River: after the Late Antiquity and before the end of the Early Middle Ages (2 dated dykes), between Bou and Orléans cities. During historical periods, we suggest 2 main thresholds concerning socio-environmental interactions: the first one during the Early Middle Ages (turcies: small scattered dykes), the second during the Modern Period (levees: high

  9. An invasive slug exploits an ant-seed dispersal mutualism.

    PubMed

    Meadley Dunphy, Shannon A; Prior, Kirsten M; Frederickson, Megan E

    2016-05-01

    Plant-animal mutualisms, such as seed dispersal, are often vulnerable to disruption by invasive species. Here, we show for the first time how a non-ant invasive species negatively affects seed dispersal by ants. We examined the effects of several animal species that co-occur in a temperate deciduous forest-including native and invasive seed-dispersing ants (Aphaenogaster rudis and Myrmica rubra, respectively), an invasive slug (Arion subfuscus), and native rodents-on a native myrmecochorous plant, Asarum canadense. We experimentally manipulated ant, slug, and rodent access to seed depots and measured seed removal. We also video-recorded depots to determine which other taxa interact with seeds. We found that A. rudis was the main disperser of seeds and that A. subfuscus consumed elaiosomes without dispersing seeds. Rodent visitation was rare, and rodent exclusion had no significant effect on seed or elaiosome removal. We then used data obtained from laboratory and field mesocosm experiments to determine how elaiosome robbing by A. subfuscus affects seed dispersal by A. rudis and M. rubra. We found that elaiosome robbing by slugs reduced seed dispersal by ants, especially in mesocosms with A. rudis, which picks up seeds more slowly than M. rubra. Taken together, our results show that elaiosome robbing by an invasive slug reduces seed dispersal by ants, suggesting that invasive slugs can have profound negative effects on seed dispersal mutualisms.

  10. An invasive slug exploits an ant-seed dispersal mutualism.

    PubMed

    Meadley Dunphy, Shannon A; Prior, Kirsten M; Frederickson, Megan E

    2016-05-01

    Plant-animal mutualisms, such as seed dispersal, are often vulnerable to disruption by invasive species. Here, we show for the first time how a non-ant invasive species negatively affects seed dispersal by ants. We examined the effects of several animal species that co-occur in a temperate deciduous forest-including native and invasive seed-dispersing ants (Aphaenogaster rudis and Myrmica rubra, respectively), an invasive slug (Arion subfuscus), and native rodents-on a native myrmecochorous plant, Asarum canadense. We experimentally manipulated ant, slug, and rodent access to seed depots and measured seed removal. We also video-recorded depots to determine which other taxa interact with seeds. We found that A. rudis was the main disperser of seeds and that A. subfuscus consumed elaiosomes without dispersing seeds. Rodent visitation was rare, and rodent exclusion had no significant effect on seed or elaiosome removal. We then used data obtained from laboratory and field mesocosm experiments to determine how elaiosome robbing by A. subfuscus affects seed dispersal by A. rudis and M. rubra. We found that elaiosome robbing by slugs reduced seed dispersal by ants, especially in mesocosms with A. rudis, which picks up seeds more slowly than M. rubra. Taken together, our results show that elaiosome robbing by an invasive slug reduces seed dispersal by ants, suggesting that invasive slugs can have profound negative effects on seed dispersal mutualisms. PMID:26830293

  11. Carbohydrate supply limits invasion of natural communities by Argentine ants.

    PubMed

    Rowles, Alexei D; Silverman, Jules

    2009-08-01

    The ability of species to invade new habitats is often limited by various biotic and physical factors or interactions between the two. Invasive ants, frequently associated with human activities, flourish in disturbed urban and agricultural environments. However, their ability to invade and establish in natural habitats is more variable. This is particularly so for the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). While biotic resistance and low soil moisture limits their invasion of natural habitats in some instances, the effect of food availability has been poorly explored. We conducted field experiments to determine if resource availability limits the spread and persistence of Argentine ants in remnant natural forest in North Carolina. Replicated transects paired with and without sucrose solution feeding stations were run from invaded urban edges into forest remnants and compared over time using baits and direct counts at feeding stations. Repeated under different timing regimes in 2006 and 2007, access to sucrose increased local Argentine ant abundances (1.6-2.5 fold) and facilitated their progression into the forest up to 73 +/- 21% of 50-m transects. Resource removal caused an expected decrease in Argentine ant densities in 2006, in conjunction with their retreat to the urban/forest boundary. However, in 2007, Argentine ant numbers unexpectedly continued to increase in the absence of sugar stations, possibly through access to alternative resources or conditions not available the previous year such as honeydew-excreting Hemiptera. Our results showed that supplementing carbohydrate supply facilitates invasion of natural habitat by Argentine ants. This is particularly evident where Argentine ants continued to thrive following sugar station removal.

  12. FORMIDABEL: The Belgian Ants Database

    PubMed Central

    Brosens, Dimitri; Vankerkhoven, François; Ignace, David; Wegnez, Philippe; Noé, Nicolas; Heughebaert, André; Bortels, Jeannine; Dekoninck, Wouter

    2013-01-01

    Abstract FORMIDABEL is a database of Belgian Ants containing more than 27.000 occurrence records. These records originate from collections, field sampling and literature. The database gives information on 76 native and 9 introduced ant species found in Belgium. The collection records originated mainly from the ants collection in Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the ‘Gaspar’ Ants collection in Gembloux and the zoological collection of the University of Liège (ULG). The oldest occurrences date back from May 1866, the most recent refer to August 2012. FORMIDABEL is a work in progress and the database is updated twice a year. The latest version of the dataset is publicly and freely accessible through this url: http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource.do?r=formidabel. The dataset is also retrievable via the GBIF data portal through this link: http://data.gbif.org/datasets/resource/14697 A dedicated geo-portal, developed by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform is accessible at: http://www.formicidae-atlas.be Purpose: FORMIDABEL is a joint cooperation of the Flemish ants working group “Polyergus” (http://formicidae.be) and the Wallonian ants working group “FourmisWalBru” (http://fourmiswalbru.be). The original database was created in 2002 in the context of the preliminary red data book of Flemish Ants (Dekoninck et al. 2003). Later, in 2005, data from the Southern part of Belgium; Wallonia and Brussels were added. In 2012 this dataset was again updated for the creation of the first Belgian Ants Atlas (Figure 1) (Dekoninck et al. 2012). The main purpose of this atlas was to generate maps for all outdoor-living ant species in Belgium using an overlay of the standard Belgian ecoregions. By using this overlay for most species, we can discern a clear and often restricted distribution pattern in Belgium, mainly based on vegetation and soil types. PMID:23794918

  13. Soil surface searching and transport of Euphorbia characias seeds by ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Espadaler, Xavier; Gómez, Crisanto

    The intensity of exploring the soil surface by ants was studied for the four species involved in the dispersal and predation of seeds of the West-Mediterranean myrmecochorous plant Euphorbia characias. During the dehiscence period (June) the whole soil surface is sccanned in 43 minutes. Not all ants that find a seed take it to the nest. For the four ant species studied ( Pheidole pallidula, Aphaenogaster senilis, Tapinoma nigerrimum, Messor barbarus) the proportion of ants that finally take the seed is 67.6%. In spite of this, the high level of soil surface searching explains the rather short time that seeds remain on the soil before being removed. The presence of an elaiosome is a key element in the outcome of the ant-seed interaction: a seed with elaiosome has a seven-fold increase in probability of being taken to the nest if found by a non-granivorous ant. The predator-avoidance hypothesis for myrmecochory is supported.

  14. Behavioral Strategies of Phorid Parasitoids and Responses of Their Hosts, the Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Elizalde, Luciana; Folgarait, Patricia Julia

    2012-01-01

    Host-searching and oviposition behaviors of parasitoids, and defensive responses of the hosts, are fundamental in shaping the ecology of host-parasitoid interactions. In order to uncover key behavioral features for the little known interactions between phorid parasitoids (Diptera: Phoridae) and their leaf-cutting ant hosts (Formicidae: Attini), host-related behavioral strategies (i.e., host searching and oviposition) for 13 phorid species, and host defensive responses (i.e., hitchhikers and particular body postures) for 11 ant species, were studied. Data was collected at 14 localities, one of them characterized by its high species richness for this host-parasitoid system. Phorid species showed both great variation and specificity in attacking behaviors. Some chose their hosts using either an ambush or an actively searching strategy, while some species attacked ants on different body parts, and specialized on ants performing different tasks, such as when ants were foraging, removing wastes to refuse piles, or repairing the nest. Combining all the behaviors recorded, most phorid species differed in performance in at least one, making it possible to recognize species in the field through their behavior. Phorid species that attacked hosts with greater activity levels showed overall higher attack rates, although there was no significant correlation between attack rates by most phorid species and ant activity outside the nest while parasitoids were attacking. The presence of phorids was a significant determinant for the presence of defensive behaviors by the ants. Although ant species varied in the incidence levels of these defensive behaviors, most ant species reacted against different phorids by utilizing similar behaviors, in contrast to what parasitoids do. General features of the observed phorid-ant interactions were parasitoid specialization and corresponding high interspecific variation in their behaviors, while their hosts showed generalized responses to attacks

  15. Direct and indirect effects of ants on a forest-floor food web.

    PubMed

    Moya-Laraño, Jordi; Wise, David H

    2007-06-01

    Interactions among predators that prey on each other and are potential competitors for shared prey (intraguild [IG] predators) are widespread in terrestrial ecosystems and have the potential to strongly influence the dynamics of terrestrial food webs. Ants and spiders are abundant and ubiquitous terrestrial IG predators, yet the strength and consequences of interactions between them are largely unknown. In the leaf-litter food web of a deciduous forest in Kentucky (USA), we tested the direct and indirect effects of ants on spiders and a category of shared prey (Collembola) by experimentally subsidizing ants in open plots in two field experiments. In the first experiment, ant activity was increased, and the density of ants in the litter was doubled, by placing carbohydrate and protein baits in the center of each plot. Gnaphosa spiders were almost twice as abundant and Schizocosa spiders were half as abundant in baited plots relative to controls. There were more tomocerid Collembola in baited plots, suggesting possible indirect effects on Collembola caused by ant-spider interactions. The second experiment, in which screening of two mesh sizes selectively excluded large and small worker ants from a sugar bait, revealed that the large ants, primarily Camponotus, could alone induce similar effects on spiders. Gnaphosa biomass density was almost twice as high in the plots where large ants were more active, whereas Schizocosa biomass density was reduced by half in these plots. Although tomocerid densities did not differ between treatments, tomocerid numbers were negatively correlated with the activity of Formica, another large ant species. Path analysis failed to support the hypothesis that the ant Camponotus indirectly affected tomocerid Collembola through effects on densities of spiders. However, path analysis also revealed other indirect effects of Camponotus affecting tomocerids. These results illustrate the complexity of interactions between and within two major IG

  16. Mechanisms of competitive displacement of native ant fauna by invading Myrmica rubra (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) populations.

    PubMed

    Garnas, Jeffrey; Groden, Eleanor; Drummond, Francis A

    2014-12-01

    Exotic ants have become invasive in many regions around the world, with variable ecological impacts. Postinvasion, native ant communities are often found to be depauperate, though the causes of this apparent lack of coexistence are rarely well known. Myrmica rubra (L.), a Palearctic Myrmecine ant, is currently expanding its range as an invasive in North America. This aggressive ant forms dense, patchy local infestations and appears to aggressively displace native ant fauna. We measured behavioral interactions and rates of recruitment in experimental field assays pitting native foragers against captive colonies of M. rubra at tuna-jelly or aphid baits in uninfested areas of Mt. Desert Island, ME. Behavioral interactions were idiosyncratic with respect to the native opponent, but M. rubra generally showed significantly higher levels of recruitment, aggression, and displacement of native foragers. As with other invasive ant species shown to have broken the "dominance-discovery trade-off," M. rubra was consistently faster to discover baits and disproportionately displaced native foragers, providing a plausible proximate mechanism for native ant exclusion. Finally, we surveyed ant recruitment at baits for 24 h in August 2004 at four sites with varying M. rubra abundance but found little evidence of temporal niche partitioning. Taken together, these results indicate competitive superiority by M. rubra with respect to native ant communities of the northeastern North America and suggest direct aggression and competitive exclusion at food resources can lead to local native displacement.

  17. Dynamics of fire ant aggregations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tennenbaum, Michael; Hu, David; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto

    Fire ant aggregations are an inherently active system. Each ant harvests its own energy and can convert it into motion. The motion of individual ants contributes non-trivially to the bulk material properties of the aggregation. We have measured some of these properties using plate-plate rheology, where the response to an applied external force or deformation is measured. In this talk, we will present data pertaining to the aggregation behavior in the absence of any external force. We quantify the aggregation dynamics by monitoring the rotation of the top plate and by measuring the normal force. We then compare the results with visualizations of 2D aggregations.

  18. Density-Dependent Benefits in Ant-Hemipteran Mutualism? The Case of the Ghost Ant Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and the Invasive Mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae)

    PubMed Central

    Zhou, Aiming; Kuang, Beiqing; Gao, Yingrui; Liang, Guangwen

    2015-01-01

    Although density-dependent benefits to hemipterans from ant tending have been measured many times, few studies have focused on integrated effects such as interactions between ant tending, natural enemy density, and hemipteran density. In this study, we tested whether the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis is affected by tending by ghost ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum), the presence of parasitoids, mealybug density, parasitoid density and interactions among these factors. Our results showed that mealybug colony growth rate and percentage parasitism were significantly affected by ant tending, parasitoid presence, and initial mealybug density separately. However, there were no interactions among the independent factors. There were also no significant interactions between ant tending and parasitoid density on either mealybug colony growth rate or percentage parasitism. Mealybug colony growth rate showed a negative linear relationship with initial mealybug density but a positive linear relationship with the level of ant tending. These results suggest that benefits to mealybugs are density-independent and are affected by ant tending level. PMID:25886510

  19. Exploratory of society

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cederman, L.-E.; Conte, R.; Helbing, D.; Nowak, A.; Schweitzer, F.; Vespignani, A.

    2012-11-01

    A huge flow of quantitative social, demographic and behavioral data is becoming available that traces the activities and interactions of individuals, social patterns, transportation infrastructures and travel fluxes. This has caused, together with innovative computational techniques and methods for modeling social actions in hybrid (natural and artificial) societies, a qualitative change in the ways we model socio-technical systems. For the first time, society can be studied in a comprehensive fashion that addresses social and behavioral complexity. In other words we are in the position to envision the development of large data and computational cyber infrastructure defining an exploratory of society that provides quantitative anticipatory, explanatory and scenario analysis capabilities ranging from emerging infectious disease to conflict and crime surges. The goal of the exploratory of society is to provide the basic infrastructure embedding the framework of tools and knowledge needed for the design of forecast/anticipatory/crisis management approaches to socio technical systems, supporting future decision making procedures by accelerating the scientific cycle that goes from data generation to predictions.

  20. A Specialist Herbivore Uses Chemical Camouflage to Overcome the Defenses of an Ant-Plant Mutualism

    PubMed Central

    Whitehead, Susan R.; Reid, Ellen; Sapp, Joseph; Poveda, Katja; Royer, Anne M.; Posto, Amanda L.; Kessler, André

    2014-01-01

    Many plants and ants engage in mutualisms where plants provide food and shelter to the ants in exchange for protection against herbivores and competitors. Although several species of herbivores thwart ant defenses and extract resources from the plants, the mechanisms that allow these herbivores to avoid attack are poorly understood. The specialist insect herbivore, Piezogaster reclusus (Hemiptera: Coreidae), feeds on Neotropical bull-horn acacias (Vachellia collinsii) despite the presence of Pseudomyrmex spinicola ants that nest in and aggressively defend the trees. We tested three hypotheses for how P. reclusus feeds on V. collinsii while avoiding ant attack: (1) chemical camouflage via cuticular surface compounds, (2) chemical deterrence via metathoracic defense glands, and (3) behavioral traits that reduce ant detection or attack. Our results showed that compounds from both P. reclusus cuticles and metathoracic glands reduce the number of ant attacks, but only cuticular compounds appear to be essential in allowing P. reclusus to feed on bull-horn acacia trees undisturbed. In addition, we found that ant attack rates to P. reclusus increased significantly when individuals were transferred between P. spinicola ant colonies. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that chemical mimicry of colony-specific ant or host plant odors plays a key role in allowing P. reclusus to circumvent ant defenses and gain access to important resources, including food and possibly enemy-free space. This interaction between ants, acacias, and their herbivores provides an excellent example of the ability of herbivores to adapt to ant defenses of plants and suggests that herbivores may play an important role in the evolution and maintenance of mutualisms. PMID:25047551

  1. Thermoregulation strategies in ants in comparison to other social insects, with a focus on red wood ants ( Formica rufa group)

    PubMed Central

    Kadochová, Štěpánka; Frouz, Jan

    2014-01-01

    Temperature influences every aspect of ant biology, especially metabolic rate, growth and development. Maintenance of high inner nest temperature increases the rate of sexual brood development and thereby increases the colony fitness. Insect societies can achieve better thermoregulation than solitary insects due to the former’s ability to build large and elaborated nests and display complex behaviour. In ants and termites the upper part of the nest, the mound, often works as a solar collector and can also have an efficient ventilation system. Two thermoregulatory strategies could be applied. Firstly the ants use an increased thermal gradient available in the mound for brood relocation. Nurse workers move the brood according to the thermal gradients to ensure the ideal conditions for development. A precise perception of temperature and evolution of temperature preferences are needed to make the correct choices. A second thermoregulatory strategy used by mound nesting ants is keeping a high temperature inside large nests. The unique thermal and insulation properties of the nest material help to maintain stable conditions, which is the case of the Wood ant genus Formica. Ants can regulate thermal loss by moving nest aggregation and alternating nest ventilation. Metabolic heat produced by ant workers or associated micro organisms is an important additional source of heat which helps to maintain thermal homeostasis in the nest. PMID:24715967

  2. Thermoregulation strategies in ants in comparison to other social insects, with a focus on red wood ants ( Formica rufa group).

    PubMed

    Kadochová, Stěpánka; Frouz, Jan

    2013-01-01

    Temperature influences every aspect of ant biology, especially metabolic rate, growth and development. Maintenance of high inner nest temperature increases the rate of sexual brood development and thereby increases the colony fitness. Insect societies can achieve better thermoregulation than solitary insects due to the former's ability to build large and elaborated nests and display complex behaviour. In ants and termites the upper part of the nest, the mound, often works as a solar collector and can also have an efficient ventilation system. Two thermoregulatory strategies could be applied. Firstly the ants use an increased thermal gradient available in the mound for brood relocation. Nurse workers move the brood according to the thermal gradients to ensure the ideal conditions for development. A precise perception of temperature and evolution of temperature preferences are needed to make the correct choices. A second thermoregulatory strategy used by mound nesting ants is keeping a high temperature inside large nests. The unique thermal and insulation properties of the nest material help to maintain stable conditions, which is the case of the Wood ant genus Formica. Ants can regulate thermal loss by moving nest aggregation and alternating nest ventilation. Metabolic heat produced by ant workers or associated micro organisms is an important additional source of heat which helps to maintain thermal homeostasis in the nest. PMID:24715967

  3. Plant-derived differences in the composition of aphid honeydew and their effects on colonies of aphid-tending ants.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Elizabeth G; Novo, Alexandria; Ableson, Ian; Barbehenn, Raymond V; Vannette, Rachel L

    2014-11-01

    In plant-ant-hemipteran interactions, ants visit plants to consume the honeydew produced by phloem-feeding hemipterans. If genetically based differences in plant phloem chemistry change the chemical composition of hemipteran honeydew, then the plant's genetic constitution could have indirect effects on ants via the hemipterans. If such effects change ant behavior, they could feed back to affect the plant itself. We compared the chemical composition of honeydews produced by Aphis nerii aphid clones on two milkweed congeners, Asclepias curassavica and Asclepias incarnata, and we measured the responses of experimental Linepithema humile ant colonies to these honeydews. The compositions of secondary metabolites, sugars, and amino acids differed significantly in the honeydews from the two plant species. Ant colonies feeding on honeydew derived from A. incarnata recruited in higher numbers to artificial diet, maintained higher queen and worker dry weight, and sustained marginally more workers than ants feeding on honeydew derived from A. curassavica. Ants feeding on honeydew from A. incarnata were also more exploratory in behavioral assays than ants feeding from A. curassavica. Despite performing better when feeding on the A. incarnata honeydew, ant workers marginally preferred honeydew from A. curassavica to honeydew from A. incarnata when given a choice. Our results demonstrate that plant congeners can exert strong indirect effects on ant colonies by means of plant-species-specific differences in aphid honeydew chemistry. Moreover, these effects changed ant behavior and thus could feed back to affect plant performance in the field. PMID:25505534

  4. Species traits and environmental characteristics together regulate ant-associated biodiversity.

    PubMed

    Campbell, Kaitlin U; Crist, Thomas O

    2016-09-01

    Host-associated organisms (e.g., parasites, commensals, and mutualists) may rely on their hosts for only a portion of their life cycle. The life-history traits and physiology of hosts are well-known determinants of the biodiversity of their associated organisms. The environmental context may strongly influence this interaction, but the relative roles of host traits and the environment are poorly known for host-associated communities. We studied the roles of host traits and environmental characteristics affecting ant-associated mites in semi-natural constructed grasslands in agricultural landscapes of the Midwest USA. Mites are frequently found in ant nests and also riding on ants in a commensal dispersal relationship known as phoresy. During nonphoretic stages of their development, ant-associated mites rely on soil or nest resources, which may vary depending on host traits and the environmental context of the colony. We hypothesized that mite diversity is determined by availability of suitable host ant species, soil detrital resources and texture, and habitat disturbance. Results showed that that large-bodied and widely distributed ant species within grasslands support the most diverse mite assemblages. Mite richness and abundance were predicted by overall ant richness and grassland area, but host traits and environmental predictors varied among ant hosts: mites associated with Aphaenogaster rudis depended on litter depth, while Myrmica americana associates were predicted by host frequency and grassland age. Multivariate ordinations of mite community composition constructed with host ant species as predictors demonstrated host specialization at both the ant species and genus levels, while ordinations with environmental variables showed that ant richness, soil texture, and grassland age also contributed to mite community structure. Our results demonstrate that large-bodied, locally abundant, and cosmopolitan ant species are especially important regulators of

  5. Species traits and environmental characteristics together regulate ant-associated biodiversity.

    PubMed

    Campbell, Kaitlin U; Crist, Thomas O

    2016-09-01

    Host-associated organisms (e.g., parasites, commensals, and mutualists) may rely on their hosts for only a portion of their life cycle. The life-history traits and physiology of hosts are well-known determinants of the biodiversity of their associated organisms. The environmental context may strongly influence this interaction, but the relative roles of host traits and the environment are poorly known for host-associated communities. We studied the roles of host traits and environmental characteristics affecting ant-associated mites in semi-natural constructed grasslands in agricultural landscapes of the Midwest USA. Mites are frequently found in ant nests and also riding on ants in a commensal dispersal relationship known as phoresy. During nonphoretic stages of their development, ant-associated mites rely on soil or nest resources, which may vary depending on host traits and the environmental context of the colony. We hypothesized that mite diversity is determined by availability of suitable host ant species, soil detrital resources and texture, and habitat disturbance. Results showed that that large-bodied and widely distributed ant species within grasslands support the most diverse mite assemblages. Mite richness and abundance were predicted by overall ant richness and grassland area, but host traits and environmental predictors varied among ant hosts: mites associated with Aphaenogaster rudis depended on litter depth, while Myrmica americana associates were predicted by host frequency and grassland age. Multivariate ordinations of mite community composition constructed with host ant species as predictors demonstrated host specialization at both the ant species and genus levels, while ordinations with environmental variables showed that ant richness, soil texture, and grassland age also contributed to mite community structure. Our results demonstrate that large-bodied, locally abundant, and cosmopolitan ant species are especially important regulators of

  6. Widespread Chemical Detoxification of Alkaloid Venom by Formicine Ants.

    PubMed

    LeBrun, Edward G; Diebold, Peter J; Orr, Matthew R; Gilbert, Lawrence E

    2015-10-01

    The ability to detoxify defensive compounds of competitors provides key ecological advantages that can influence community-level processes. Although common in plants and bacteria, this type of detoxification interaction is extremely rare in animals. Here, using laboratory behavioral assays and analyses of videotaped interactions in South America, we report widespread venom detoxification among ants in the subfamily Formicinae. Across both data sets, nine formicine species, representing all major clades, used a stereotyped grooming behavior to self-apply formic acid (acidopore grooming) in response to fire ant (Solenopsis invicta and S. saevissima) venom exposure. In laboratory assays, this behavior increased the survivorship of species following exposure to S. invicta venom. Species expressed the behavior when exposed to additional alkaloid venoms, including both compositionally similar piperidine venom of an additional fire ant species and the pyrrolidine/pyrroline alkaloid venom of a Monomorium species. In addition, species expressed the behavior following exposure to the uncharacterized venom of a Crematogaster species. However, species did not express acidopore grooming when confronted with protein-based ant venoms or when exposed to monoterpenoid-based venom. This pattern, combined with the specific chemistry of the reaction of formic acid with venom alkaloids, indicates that alkaloid venoms are targets of detoxification grooming. Solenopsis thief ants, and Monomorium species stand out as brood-predators of formicine ants that produce piperidine, pyrrolidine, and pyrroline venom, providing an important ecological context for the use of detoxification behavior. Detoxification behavior also represents a mechanism that can influence the order of assemblage dominance hierarchies surrounding food competition. Thus, this behavior likely influences ant-assemblages through a variety of ecological pathways.

  7. Assessing ecological specialization of an ant-seed dispersal mutualism through a wide geographic range.

    PubMed

    Manzaneda, Antonio J; Rey, Pedro J

    2009-11-01

    Specialization in species interactions is of central importance for understanding the ecological structure and evolution of plant-animal mutualisms. Most plant-animal mutualisms are facultative and strongly asymmetric. In particular, myrmecochory (seed dispersal by ants) has been regarded as a very generalized interaction. Although some recent studies have suggested that only a few ant species are really important for dispersal, no rigorous measurement of the specialization in ant-seed dispersal mutualisms has been performed. Here, we use individual plants as basic units for replication to investigate the generalization-specialization of the herb Helleborus foetidus on its ant dispersers over a considerable part of its geographical range. We define generalization in terms of diversity components (species richness and evenness) of the ant visitor that realizes dispersal by removing diaspores. We obtain truly comparable values of ant visitor diversity, distinguishing among different functional groups of visitors and identifying incidental visitors and real ant dispersers. Using null model approaches, we test the null hypothesis that ant-mediated dispersal is a generalized mutualism. At least two premises should be confirmed to validate the hypothesis: (1) diaspores are dispersed by multiple ant-visitor species, and (2) diaspore dispersal is significantly equitable. Though up to 37 ant species visited diaspores across 10 populations, only two large formicines, Camponotus cruentatus and Formica lugubris, were responsible for the vast majority of visits resulting in dispersal in most populations and years, which strongly suggests that ant seed dispersal in H. foetidus is ecologically specialized. Interestingly, specialization degree was unrelated to dispersal success across populations. Our study offers new insights into the spatiotemporal dynamics of myrmecochory. We propose the existence of an alternative scenario to extensive generalization. In this new scenario

  8. Comparative dating of attine ant and lepiotaceous cultivar phylogenies reveals coevolutionary synchrony and discord.

    PubMed

    Mikheyev, Alexander S; Mueller, Ulrich G; Abbot, Patrick

    2010-06-01

    The mutualistic symbiosis between fungus-gardening ants and their cultivars has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the coevolution of complex species interactions. Reciprocal specialization and vertical symbiont cotransmission are thought to promote a pattern of largely synchronous coevolutionary diversification in attines. Here we test this hypothesis by inferring the first time-calibrated multigene phylogeny of the lepiotaceous attine cultivars and comparing it with the recently published fossil-anchored phylogeny of the attine ants. While this comparison reveals some possible cases of synchronous origins of ant and fungal clades, there were a number of surprising asynchronies. For example, leaf-cutter cultivars appear to be significantly younger than the corresponding ant genera. Similarly, a clade of fungi interacting with primitive fungus-gardening ants--thought to be ancestral to the more derived leaf-cutter symbionts--appears instead to be a more recent acquisition from free-living stock. These macroevolutionary patterns are consistent with recent population-level studies suggesting occasional acquisition of novel cultivar types from environmental sources and horizontal transmission of cultivars between different ant species. Horizontal transmission events, even if rare, appear to form loose ecological connections between diffusely coevolving ant and fungus lineages that permit punctuated changes in the topology of the mutualistic ant-fungus interaction network. PMID:20415533

  9. Two fungal symbioses collide: endophytic fungi are not welcome in leaf-cutting ant gardens

    PubMed Central

    Van Bael, Sunshine A.; Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Valencia, Mariana C.; Rojas, Enith I.; Wcislo, William T.; Herre, Edward A.

    2009-01-01

    Interactions among the component members of different symbioses are not well studied. For example, leaf-cutting ants maintain an obligate symbiosis with their fungal garden, while the leaf material they provide to their garden is usually filled with endophytic fungi. The ants and their cultivar may interact with hundreds of endophytic fungal species, yet little is known about these interactions. Experimental manipulations showed that (i) ants spend more time cutting leaves from a tropical vine, Merremia umbellata, with high versus low endophyte densities, (ii) ants reduce the amount of endophytic fungi in leaves before planting them in their gardens, (iii) the ants' fungal cultivar inhibits the growth of most endophytes tested. Moreover, the inhibition by the ants' cultivar was relatively greater for more rapidly growing endophyte strains that could potentially out-compete or overtake the garden. Our results suggest that endophytes are not welcome in the garden, and that the ants and their cultivar combine ant hygiene behaviour with fungal inhibition to reduce endophyte activity in the nest. PMID:19364739

  10. Do ants make direct comparisons?

    PubMed

    Robinson, Elva J H; Smith, Faith D; Sullivan, Kathryn M E; Franks, Nigel R

    2009-07-22

    Many individual decisions are informed by direct comparison of the alternatives. In collective decisions, however, only certain group members may have the opportunity to compare options. Emigrating ant colonies (Temnothorax albipennis) show sophisticated nest-site choice, selecting superior sites even when they are nine times further away than the alternative. How do they do this? We used radio-frequency identification-tagged ants to monitor individual behaviour. Here we show for the first time that switching between nests during the decision process can influence nest choice without requiring direct comparison of nests. Ants finding the poor nest were likely to switch and find the good nest, whereas ants finding the good nest were more likely to stay committed to that nest. When ants switched quickly between the two nests, colonies chose the good nest. Switching by ants that had the opportunity to compare nests had little effect on nest choice. We suggest a new mechanism of collective nest choice: individuals respond to nest quality by the decision either to commit or to seek alternatives. Previously proposed mechanisms, recruitment latency and nest comparison, can be explained as side effects of this simple rule. Colony-level comparison and choice can emerge, without direct comparison by individuals.

  11. Trap-mulching Argentine ants.

    PubMed

    Silverman, Jules; Sorenson, Clyde E; Waldvogel, Michael G

    2006-10-01

    Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr), management is constrained, in large part, by polydomy where nestmates are distributed extensively across urban landscapes, particularly within mulch. Management with trap-mulching is a novel approach derived from trap-cropping where ants are repelled from a broad domain of nest sites to smaller defined areas, which are subsequently treated with insecticide. This concept was field-tested with mulch surrounding ornamental trees replaced with a narrow band of pine (Pinus spp.) needle mulch (trap) within a much larger patch of repellent aromatic cedar (Juniperus spp.) mulch. After ants reestablished around the trees, the pine needle mulch band was treated with 0.06% fipronil (Termidor). Poor results were obtained when the trap extended from the tree trunk to the edge of the mulched area. When the trap was applied as a circular band around the tree trunk reductions in the number of foraging ants were recorded through 14 d compared with an untreated mulch control, but not for longer periods. Reductions in the number of ant nests within mulch were no different between the trap mulch and any of the other treatments. We conclude that trap-mulching offers limited benefits, and that successful management of Argentine ants will require implementation of complementary or perhaps alternative strategies.

  12. Do ants make direct comparisons?

    PubMed Central

    Robinson, Elva J.H.; Smith, Faith D.; Sullivan, Kathryn M.E.; Franks, Nigel R.

    2009-01-01

    Many individual decisions are informed by direct comparison of the alternatives. In collective decisions, however, only certain group members may have the opportunity to compare options. Emigrating ant colonies (Temnothorax albipennis) show sophisticated nest-site choice, selecting superior sites even when they are nine times further away than the alternative. How do they do this? We used radio-frequency identification-tagged ants to monitor individual behaviour. Here we show for the first time that switching between nests during the decision process can influence nest choice without requiring direct comparison of nests. Ants finding the poor nest were likely to switch and find the good nest, whereas ants finding the good nest were more likely to stay committed to that nest. When ants switched quickly between the two nests, colonies chose the good nest. Switching by ants that had the opportunity to compare nests had little effect on nest choice. We suggest a new mechanism of collective nest choice: individuals respond to nest quality by the decision either to commit or to seek alternatives. Previously proposed mechanisms, recruitment latency and nest comparison, can be explained as side effects of this simple rule. Colony-level comparison and choice can emerge, without direct comparison by individuals. PMID:19386652

  13. Measuring activity in ant colonies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Noda, C.; Fernández, J.; Pérez-Penichet, C.; Altshuler, E.

    2006-12-01

    Ants, as paradigm of social insects, have become a recurrent example of efficient problem solvers via self-organization. In spite of the simple behavior of each individual, the colony as a whole displays "swarm intelligence:" the organization of ant trails for foraging is a typical output of it. But conventional techniques of observation can hardly record the amount of data needed to get a detailed understanding of self-organization of ant swarms in the wild. Here we are presenting a measurement system intended to monitor ant activity in the field comprising massive data acquisition and high sensitivity. A central role is played by an infrared sensor devised specifically to monitor relevant parameters to the activity of ants through the exits of the nest, although other sensors detecting temperature and luminosity are added to the system. We study the characteristics of the activity sensor and its performance in the field. Finally, we present massive data measured at one exit of a nest of Atta insularis, an ant endemic to Cuba, to illustrate the potential of our system.

  14. Ant exclusion in citrus over an 8-year period reveals a pervasive yet changing effect of ants on a Mediterranean spider assemblage.

    PubMed

    Mestre, L; Piñol, J; Barrientos, J A; Espadaler, X

    2013-09-01

    Ants and spiders are ubiquitous generalist predators that exert top-down control on herbivore populations. Research shows that intraguild interactions between ants and spiders can negatively affect spider populations, but there is a lack of long-term research documenting the strength of such interactions and the potentially different effects of ants on the diverse array of species in a spider assemblage. Similarly, the suitability of family-level surrogates for finding patterns revealed by species-level data (taxonomic sufficiency) has almost never been tested in spider assemblages. We present a long-term study in which we tested the impact of ants on the spider assemblage of a Mediterranean citrus grove by performing sequential 1-year experimental exclusions on tree canopies for 8 years. We found that ants had a widespread influence on the spider assemblage, although the effect was only evident in the last 5 years of the study. During those years, ants negatively affected many spiders, and effects were especially strong for sedentary spiders. Analyses at the family level also detected assemblage differences between treatments, but they concealed the different responses to ant exclusion shown by some related spider species. Our findings show that the effects of experimental manipulations in ecology can vary greatly over time and highlight the need for long-term studies to document species interactions.

  15. Social, spatial, and temporal organization in a complex insect society.

    PubMed

    Quevillon, Lauren E; Hanks, Ephraim M; Bansal, Shweta; Hughes, David P

    2015-08-24

    High-density living is often associated with high disease risk due to density-dependent epidemic spread. Despite being paragons of high-density living, the social insects have largely decoupled the association with density-dependent epidemics. It is hypothesized that this is accomplished through prophylactic and inducible defenses termed 'collective immunity'. Here we characterise segregation of carpenter ants that would be most likely to encounter infectious agents (i.e. foragers) using integrated social, spatial, and temporal analyses. Importantly, we do this in the absence of disease to establish baseline colony organization. Behavioural and social network analyses show that active foragers engage in more trophallaxis interactions than their nest worker and queen counterparts and occupy greater area within the nest. When the temporal ordering of social interactions is taken into account, active foragers and inactive foragers are not observed to interact with the queen in ways that could lead to the meaningful transfer of disease. Furthermore, theoretical resource spread analyses show that such temporal segregation does not appear to impact the colony-wide flow of food. This study provides an understanding of a complex society's organization in the absence of disease that will serve as a null model for future studies in which disease is explicitly introduced.

  16. Social, spatial, and temporal organization in a complex insect society.

    PubMed

    Quevillon, Lauren E; Hanks, Ephraim M; Bansal, Shweta; Hughes, David P

    2015-01-01

    High-density living is often associated with high disease risk due to density-dependent epidemic spread. Despite being paragons of high-density living, the social insects have largely decoupled the association with density-dependent epidemics. It is hypothesized that this is accomplished through prophylactic and inducible defenses termed 'collective immunity'. Here we characterise segregation of carpenter ants that would be most likely to encounter infectious agents (i.e. foragers) using integrated social, spatial, and temporal analyses. Importantly, we do this in the absence of disease to establish baseline colony organization. Behavioural and social network analyses show that active foragers engage in more trophallaxis interactions than their nest worker and queen counterparts and occupy greater area within the nest. When the temporal ordering of social interactions is taken into account, active foragers and inactive foragers are not observed to interact with the queen in ways that could lead to the meaningful transfer of disease. Furthermore, theoretical resource spread analyses show that such temporal segregation does not appear to impact the colony-wide flow of food. This study provides an understanding of a complex society's organization in the absence of disease that will serve as a null model for future studies in which disease is explicitly introduced. PMID:26300390

  17. VideoANT: Extending Online Video Annotation beyond Content Delivery

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hosack, Bradford

    2010-01-01

    This paper expands the boundaries of video annotation in education by outlining the need for extended interaction in online video use, identifying the challenges faced by existing video annotation tools, and introducing Video-ANT, a tool designed to create text-based annotations integrated within the time line of a video hosted online. Several…

  18. The genome of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta

    PubMed Central

    Wurm, Yannick; Wang, John; Riba-Grognuz, Oksana; Corona, Miguel; Nygaard, Sanne; Hunt, Brendan G.; Ingram, Krista K.; Falquet, Laurent; Nipitwattanaphon, Mingkwan; Gotzek, Dietrich; Dijkstra, Michiel B.; Oettler, Jan; Comtesse, Fabien; Shih, Cheng-Jen; Wu, Wen-Jer; Yang, Chin-Cheng; Thomas, Jerome; Beaudoing, Emmanuel; Pradervand, Sylvain; Flegel, Volker; Cook, Erin D.; Fabbretti, Roberto; Stockinger, Heinz; Long, Li; Farmerie, William G.; Oakey, Jane; Boomsma, Jacobus J.; Pamilo, Pekka; Yi, Soojin V.; Heinze, Jürgen; Goodisman, Michael A. D.; Farinelli, Laurent; Harshman, Keith; Hulo, Nicolas; Cerutti, Lorenzo; Xenarios, Ioannis; Shoemaker, DeWayne; Keller, Laurent

    2011-01-01

    Ants have evolved very complex societies and are key ecosystem members. Some ants, such as the fire ant Solenopsis invicta, are also major pests. Here, we present a draft genome of S. invicta, assembled from Roche 454 and Illumina sequencing reads obtained from a focal haploid male and his brothers. We used comparative genomic methods to obtain insight into the unique features of the S. invicta genome. For example, we found that this genome harbors four adjacent copies of vitellogenin. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that an ancestral vitellogenin gene first underwent a duplication that was followed by possibly independent duplications of each of the daughter vitellogenins. The vitellogenin genes have undergone subfunctionalization with queen- and worker-specific expression, possibly reflecting differential selection acting on the queen and worker castes. Additionally, we identified more than 400 putative olfactory receptors of which at least 297 are intact. This represents the largest repertoire reported so far in insects. S. invicta also harbors an expansion of a specific family of lipid-processing genes, two putative orthologs to the transformer/feminizer sex differentiation gene, a functional DNA methylation system, and a single putative telomerase ortholog. EST data indicate that this S. invicta telomerase ortholog has at least four spliceforms that differ in their use of two sets of mutually exclusive exons. Some of these and other unique aspects of the fire ant genome are likely linked to the complex social behavior of this species. PMID:21282665

  19. The genome of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta.

    PubMed

    Wurm, Yannick; Wang, John; Riba-Grognuz, Oksana; Corona, Miguel; Nygaard, Sanne; Hunt, Brendan G; Ingram, Krista K; Falquet, Laurent; Nipitwattanaphon, Mingkwan; Gotzek, Dietrich; Dijkstra, Michiel B; Oettler, Jan; Comtesse, Fabien; Shih, Cheng-Jen; Wu, Wen-Jer; Yang, Chin-Cheng; Thomas, Jerome; Beaudoing, Emmanuel; Pradervand, Sylvain; Flegel, Volker; Cook, Erin D; Fabbretti, Roberto; Stockinger, Heinz; Long, Li; Farmerie, William G; Oakey, Jane; Boomsma, Jacobus J; Pamilo, Pekka; Yi, Soojin V; Heinze, Jürgen; Goodisman, Michael A D; Farinelli, Laurent; Harshman, Keith; Hulo, Nicolas; Cerutti, Lorenzo; Xenarios, Ioannis; Shoemaker, Dewayne; Keller, Laurent

    2011-04-01

    Ants have evolved very complex societies and are key ecosystem members. Some ants, such as the fire ant Solenopsis invicta, are also major pests. Here, we present a draft genome of S. invicta, assembled from Roche 454 and Illumina sequencing reads obtained from a focal haploid male and his brothers. We used comparative genomic methods to obtain insight into the unique features of the S. invicta genome. For example, we found that this genome harbors four adjacent copies of vitellogenin. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that an ancestral vitellogenin gene first underwent a duplication that was followed by possibly independent duplications of each of the daughter vitellogenins. The vitellogenin genes have undergone subfunctionalization with queen- and worker-specific expression, possibly reflecting differential selection acting on the queen and worker castes. Additionally, we identified more than 400 putative olfactory receptors of which at least 297 are intact. This represents the largest repertoire reported so far in insects. S. invicta also harbors an expansion of a specific family of lipid-processing genes, two putative orthologs to the transformer/feminizer sex differentiation gene, a functional DNA methylation system, and a single putative telomerase ortholog. EST data indicate that this S. invicta telomerase ortholog has at least four spliceforms that differ in their use of two sets of mutually exclusive exons. Some of these and other unique aspects of the fire ant genome are likely linked to the complex social behavior of this species.

  20. Mimetic host shifts in an endangered social parasite of ants.

    PubMed

    Thomas, Jeremy A; Elmes, Graham W; Sielezniew, Marcin; Stankiewicz-Fiedurek, Anna; Simcox, David J; Settele, Josef; Schönrogge, Karsten

    2013-01-22

    An emerging problem in conservation is whether listed morpho-species with broad distributions, yet specialized lifestyles, consist of more than one cryptic species or functionally distinct forms that have different ecological requirements. We describe extreme regional divergence within an iconic endangered butterfly, whose socially parasitic young stages use non-visual, non-tactile cues to infiltrate and supplant the brood in ant societies. Although indistinguishable morphologically or when using current mitochondrial and nuclear sequence-, or microsatellite data, Maculinea rebeli from Spain and southeast Poland exploit different Myrmica ant species and experience 100 per cent mortality with each other's hosts. This reflects major differences in the hydrocarbons synthesized from each region by the larvae, which so closely mimic the recognition profiles of their respective hosts that nurse ants afford each parasite a social status above that of their own kin larvae. The two host ants occupy separate niches within grassland; thus, conservation management must differ in each region. Similar cryptic differentiation may be common, yet equally hard to detect, among the approximately 10 000 unstudied morpho-species of social parasite that are estimated to exist, many of which are Red Data Book listed.

  1. Reproductive phenologies in a diverse temperate ant fauna

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dunn, R.R.; Parker, C.R.; Geraghty, M.; Sanders, N.J.

    2007-01-01

    1. Ant nuptial flights are central to understanding ant life history and ecology but have been little studied. This study examined the timing of nuptial flights, the synchronicity of nuptial flights (as a potential index of mating strategy), and variation in nuptial flights with elevation and among years in a diverse temperate ant fauna. 2. Flights occurred throughout the year, but were concentrated in the beginning of summer and in early fall (autumn). Relative to the entire flight season, closely related species tended to be more likely than expected by chance to fly at similar times, perhaps because of phylogenetic constraints on life history evolution. 3. Flights were relatively synchronous within species for nearly all species considered, but synchronicity did not appear to be a robust estimate of overall mating strategy. 4. Overall patterns in nuptial flights among species and the timing of flights for individual species varied with elevation, but did not vary greatly among years. 5. Although this study is one of the most comprehensive on the reproductive flight phenologies of ants, much remains to be learned about the causes and consequences of such spatial and temporal variation in flight phenology. ?? 2007 The Royal Entomological Society.

  2. Mimetic host shifts in an endangered social parasite of ants

    PubMed Central

    Thomas, Jeremy A.; Elmes, Graham W.; Sielezniew, Marcin; Stankiewicz-Fiedurek, Anna; Simcox, David J.; Settele, Josef; Schönrogge, Karsten

    2013-01-01

    An emerging problem in conservation is whether listed morpho-species with broad distributions, yet specialized lifestyles, consist of more than one cryptic species or functionally distinct forms that have different ecological requirements. We describe extreme regional divergence within an iconic endangered butterfly, whose socially parasitic young stages use non-visual, non-tactile cues to infiltrate and supplant the brood in ant societies. Although indistinguishable morphologically or when using current mitochondrial and nuclear sequence-, or microsatellite data, Maculinea rebeli from Spain and southeast Poland exploit different Myrmica ant species and experience 100 per cent mortality with each other's hosts. This reflects major differences in the hydrocarbons synthesized from each region by the larvae, which so closely mimic the recognition profiles of their respective hosts that nurse ants afford each parasite a social status above that of their own kin larvae. The two host ants occupy separate niches within grassland; thus, conservation management must differ in each region. Similar cryptic differentiation may be common, yet equally hard to detect, among the approximately 10 000 unstudied morpho-species of social parasite that are estimated to exist, many of which are Red Data Book listed. PMID:23193127

  3. Species-Specific Seed Dispersal in an Obligate Ant-Plant Mutualism

    PubMed Central

    Youngsteadt, Elsa; Baca, Jeniffer Alvarez; Osborne, Jason; Schal, Coby

    2009-01-01

    Throughout lowland Amazonia, arboreal ants collect seeds of specific plants and cultivate them in nutrient-rich nests, forming diverse yet obligate and species-specific symbioses called Neotropical ant-gardens (AGs). The ants depend on their symbiotic plants for nest stability, and the plants depend on AGs for substrate and nutrients. Although the AGs are limited to specific participants, it is unknown at what stage specificity arises, and seed fate pathways in AG epiphytes are undocumented. Here we examine the specificity of the ant-seed interaction by comparing the ant community observed at general food baits to ants attracted to and removing seeds of the AG plant Peperomia macrostachya. We also compare seed removal rates under treatments that excluded vertebrates, arthropods, or both. In the bait study, only three of 70 ant species collected P. macrostachya seeds, and 84% of observed seed removal by ants was attributed to the AG ant Camponotus femoratus. In the exclusion experiment, arthropod exclusion significantly reduced seed removal rates, but vertebrate exclusion did not. We provide the most extensive empirical evidence of species specificity in the AG mutualism and begin to quantify factors that affect seed fate in order to understand conditions that favor its departure from the typical diffuse model of plant-animal mutualism. PMID:19194502

  4. Development of virtual bait stations to control Argentine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in environmentally sensitive habitats.

    PubMed

    Choe, Dong-Hwan; Vetter, Richard S; Rust, Michael K

    2010-10-01

    A novel bait station referred to as a virtual bait station was developed and tested against field populations of the invasive Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), at White Beach, Camp Pendleton, in Oceanside, CA. White Beach is a nesting habitat for an endangered seabird, the California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni Mearns). The beach is heavily infested with Argentine ants, one of the threats for the California least tern chicks. Conventional pest control strategies are prohibited because of the existence of the protected bird species and the site's proximity to the ocean. The bait station consisted of a polyvinyl chloride pipe that was treated on the inside with fipronil insecticide at low concentrations to obtain delayed toxicity against ants. The pipe was provisioned with an inverted bottle of 25% sucrose solution, then capped, and buried in the sand. Foraging ants crossed the treated surface to consume the sucrose solution. The delayed toxicity of fipronil deposits allowed the ants to continue foraging on the sucrose solution and to interact with their nestmates, killing them within 3-5 d after exposure. Further modification of the bait station design minimized the accumulation of dead ants in the sucrose solution, significantly improving the longevity and efficacy of the bait station. The virtual bait station exploits the foraging behavior of the ants and provides a low impact approach to control ants in environmentally sensitive habitats. It excluded all insects except ants, required only milligram quantities of toxicant, and eliminated the problem of formulating toxicants into aqueous sugar baits.

  5. Monopolization of resources by ground-nesting ants foraging on trees in Mediterranean forests

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martinez, Jean-Jacques Itzhak

    2015-05-01

    Ant communities are generally structured by territoriality, dominance and resource monopolization, but in Mediterranean hot grassland thermal tolerance plays a more important role. The main purposes of the present research were to investigate the hypothesis that in cooler Mediterranean forests resource monopolization structures the generalist ground-nesting ant community while foraging on trees, and to learn if tree heterogeneity plays any role in this structure. In Mediterranean forests in Israel, I visually recorded and trapped ants on the forest floor and those climbing on trees of five species. Ants of 27 species were detected, while the Chao2 index indicated an asymptotic richness estimation of 31 ± 8.1 species (mean ± S.D.). The numerically dominant species were Crematogaster lorteti and Tapinoma simrothi followed by Tapinoma israele and Crematogaster scutellaris. In more than 80% of the cases, specimens of only one ant species climbed at the same time on any individual tree, and no tree was occupied by more than three species. The C-score of climbing ants was statistically higher than simulated indexes when resources were individual trees, indicating that the ants strongly monopolized each tree. No difference was detected between observed and simulated C-scores when resources were tree species. The observed index of Pianka's niche overlap indicated no species specific interaction between trees and ants. In conclusion, this study confirms that ant mosaic structure may be formed by ground-nesting ants while foraging on trees. Tree species heterogeneity did not have a selective impact on the ants nor a central role in the ant community structure.

  6. Steep Decline and Cessation in Seed Dispersal by Myrmica rubra Ants.

    PubMed

    Bologna, Audrey; Detrain, Claire

    2015-01-01

    Myrmecochorous diaspores bear a nutrient-rich appendage, the elaiosome, attractive to ant workers that retrieve them into the nest, detach the elaiosome and reject the seed intact. While this interaction is beneficial for the plant partner by ensuring its seed dispersal, elaiosome consumption has various effects -positive, negative or none - on ants' demography and survival, depending on both the ant/plant species involved. In this context, the contribution of ants to seed dispersal strongly varies according to the ant/plant pairs considered. In this paper, we investigate whether the dynamics of myrmecochory also vary on a temporal scale, for a given pair of partners: Myrmica rubra ants and Viola odorata seeds. During their first encounter with seeds, ants collect all the diaspores and eat the majority of elaiosomes. Both the harvesting effort and the elaiosome consumption decline when seeds are offered on the next week and completely cease for the following weeks. This is related to a decrease in the number of foragers reaching the food source, as well as to a reduced probability for an ant contacting a seed to retrieve it. Seed retrieval is not reactivated after seven weeks without any encounter with V. odorata seeds. By contrast, naive ant colonies only fed with fruit flies do not show a decline of prey harvesting of which the speed of retrieval even increases over the successive weeks. Myrmecochory may thus be labile at the scale of a fruiting season due to the ability of ants to steeply tune and cease for several months the harvesting of these seemingly poorly rewarding items and to maintain cessation of seed exploitation. The present study emphasizes the importance of a long-lasting follow up of the myrmecochory process, to assess the stability of this ant-plant partnership and to identify mechanisms of adaptive harvesting in ants.

  7. Steep Decline and Cessation in Seed Dispersal by Myrmica rubra Ants.

    PubMed

    Bologna, Audrey; Detrain, Claire

    2015-01-01

    Myrmecochorous diaspores bear a nutrient-rich appendage, the elaiosome, attractive to ant workers that retrieve them into the nest, detach the elaiosome and reject the seed intact. While this interaction is beneficial for the plant partner by ensuring its seed dispersal, elaiosome consumption has various effects -positive, negative or none - on ants' demography and survival, depending on both the ant/plant species involved. In this context, the contribution of ants to seed dispersal strongly varies according to the ant/plant pairs considered. In this paper, we investigate whether the dynamics of myrmecochory also vary on a temporal scale, for a given pair of partners: Myrmica rubra ants and Viola odorata seeds. During their first encounter with seeds, ants collect all the diaspores and eat the majority of elaiosomes. Both the harvesting effort and the elaiosome consumption decline when seeds are offered on the next week and completely cease for the following weeks. This is related to a decrease in the number of foragers reaching the food source, as well as to a reduced probability for an ant contacting a seed to retrieve it. Seed retrieval is not reactivated after seven weeks without any encounter with V. odorata seeds. By contrast, naive ant colonies only fed with fruit flies do not show a decline of prey harvesting of which the speed of retrieval even increases over the successive weeks. Myrmecochory may thus be labile at the scale of a fruiting season due to the ability of ants to steeply tune and cease for several months the harvesting of these seemingly poorly rewarding items and to maintain cessation of seed exploitation. The present study emphasizes the importance of a long-lasting follow up of the myrmecochory process, to assess the stability of this ant-plant partnership and to identify mechanisms of adaptive harvesting in ants. PMID:26414161

  8. Monoculture of Leafcutter Ant Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Mueller, Ulrich G.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Ishak, Heather D.; Cooper, Michael; Rodrigues, Andre

    2010-01-01

    Background Leafcutter ants depend on the cultivation of symbiotic Attamyces fungi for food, which are thought to be grown by the ants in single-strain, clonal monoculture throughout the hundreds to thousands of gardens within a leafcutter nest. Monoculture eliminates cultivar-cultivar competition that would select for competitive fungal traits that are detrimental to the ants, whereas polyculture of several fungi could increase nutritional diversity and disease resistance of genetically variable gardens. Methodology/Principal Findings Using three experimental approaches, we assessed cultivar diversity within nests of Atta leafcutter ants, which are most likely among all fungus-growing ants to cultivate distinct cultivar genotypes per nest because of the nests' enormous sizes (up to 5000 gardens) and extended lifespans (10–20 years). In Atta texana and in A. cephalotes, we resampled nests over a 5-year period to test for persistence of resident cultivar genotypes within each nest, and we tested for genetic differences between fungi from different nest sectors accessed through excavation. In A. texana, we also determined the number of Attamyces cells carried as a starter inoculum by a dispersing queens (minimally several thousand Attamyces cells), and we tested for genetic differences between Attamyces carried by sister queens dispersing from the same nest. Except for mutational variation arising during clonal Attamyces propagation, DNA fingerprinting revealed no evidence for fungal polyculture and no genotype turnover during the 5-year surveys. Conclusions/Significance Atta leafcutter ants can achieve stable, fungal monoculture over many years. Mutational variation emerging within an Attamyces monoculture could provide genetic diversity for symbiont choice (gardening biases of the ants favoring specific mutational variants), an analog of artificial selection. PMID:20844760

  9. The need for interaction between assisted reproduction technology and genetics: recommendations of the European Societies of Human Genetics and Human Reproduction and Embryology.

    PubMed

    2006-08-01

    Infertility and reproductive genetic risk are both increasing in our societies because of lifestyle changes and possibly environmental factors. Owing to the magnitude of the problem, they have implications not only at the individual and family levels but also at the community level. This leads to an increasing demand for access to assisted reproduction technology (ART) and genetic services, especially when the cause of infertility may be genetic in origin. The increasing application of genetics in reproductive medicine and vice versa requires closer collaboration between the two disciplines. ART and genetics are rapidly evolving fields where new technologies are currently introduced without sufficient knowledge of their potential long-term effects. As for any medical procedures, there are possible unexpected effects which need to be envisaged to make sure that the balance between benefits and risks is clearly on the benefit side. The development of ART and genetics as scientific activities is creating an opportunity to understand the early stages of human development, which is leading to new and challenging findings/knowledge. However, there are opinions against investigating the early stages of development in humans who deserve respect and attention. For all these reasons, these two societies, European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) and European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), have joined efforts to explore the issues at stake and to set up recommendations to maximize the benefit for the couples in need and for the community.

  10. Macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses: Pseudomyrmex ants and their ant-housing plants in the Neotropics.

    PubMed

    Chomicki, Guillaume; Ward, Philip S; Renner, Susanne S

    2015-11-22

    Symbioses include some of the clearest cases of coevolution, but their origin, loss or reassembly with different partners can rarely be inferred. Here we use ant/plant symbioses involving three plant clades to investigate the evolution of symbioses. We generated phylogenies for the big-eyed arboreal ants (Pseudomyrmecinae), including 72% of their 286 species, as well as for five of their plant host groups, in each case sampling more than 61% of the species. We show that the ant-housing Vachellia (Mimosoideae) clade and its ants co-diversified for the past 5 Ma, with some species additionally colonized by younger plant-nesting ant species, some parasitic. An apparent co-radiation of ants and Tachigali (Caesalpinioideae) was followed by waves of colonization by the same ant clade, and subsequent occupation by a younger ant group. Wide crown and stem age differences between the ant-housing genus Triplaris (Polygonaceae) and its obligate ant inhabitants, and stochastic trait mapping, indicate that its domatium evolved earlier than the ants now occupying it, suggesting previous symbioses that dissolved. Parasitic ant species evolved from generalists, not from mutualists, and are younger than the mutualistic systems they parasitize. Our study illuminates the macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses, which has been highly dynamic, even in very specialized systems. PMID:26582029

  11. Macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses: Pseudomyrmex ants and their ant-housing plants in the Neotropics.

    PubMed

    Chomicki, Guillaume; Ward, Philip S; Renner, Susanne S

    2015-11-22

    Symbioses include some of the clearest cases of coevolution, but their origin, loss or reassembly with different partners can rarely be inferred. Here we use ant/plant symbioses involving three plant clades to investigate the evolution of symbioses. We generated phylogenies for the big-eyed arboreal ants (Pseudomyrmecinae), including 72% of their 286 species, as well as for five of their plant host groups, in each case sampling more than 61% of the species. We show that the ant-housing Vachellia (Mimosoideae) clade and its ants co-diversified for the past 5 Ma, with some species additionally colonized by younger plant-nesting ant species, some parasitic. An apparent co-radiation of ants and Tachigali (Caesalpinioideae) was followed by waves of colonization by the same ant clade, and subsequent occupation by a younger ant group. Wide crown and stem age differences between the ant-housing genus Triplaris (Polygonaceae) and its obligate ant inhabitants, and stochastic trait mapping, indicate that its domatium evolved earlier than the ants now occupying it, suggesting previous symbioses that dissolved. Parasitic ant species evolved from generalists, not from mutualists, and are younger than the mutualistic systems they parasitize. Our study illuminates the macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses, which has been highly dynamic, even in very specialized systems.

  12. Plant-derived differences in the composition of aphid honeydew and their effects on colonies of aphid-tending ants

    PubMed Central

    Pringle, Elizabeth G; Novo, Alexandria; Ableson, Ian; Barbehenn, Raymond V; Vannette, Rachel L

    2014-01-01

    In plant–ant–hemipteran interactions, ants visit plants to consume the honeydew produced by phloem-feeding hemipterans. If genetically based differences in plant phloem chemistry change the chemical composition of hemipteran honeydew, then the plant's genetic constitution could have indirect effects on ants via the hemipterans. If such effects change ant behavior, they could feed back to affect the plant itself. We compared the chemical composition of honeydews produced by Aphis nerii aphid clones on two milkweed congeners, Asclepias curassavica and Asclepias incarnata, and we measured the responses of experimental Linepithema humile ant colonies to these honeydews. The compositions of secondary metabolites, sugars, and amino acids differed significantly in the honeydews from the two plant species. Ant colonies feeding on honeydew derived from A. incarnata recruited in higher numbers to artificial diet, maintained higher queen and worker dry weight, and sustained marginally more workers than ants feeding on honeydew derived from A. curassavica. Ants feeding on honeydew from A. incarnata were also more exploratory in behavioral assays than ants feeding from A. curassavica. Despite performing better when feeding on the A. incarnata honeydew, ant workers marginally preferred honeydew from A. curassavica to honeydew from A. incarnata when given a choice. Our results demonstrate that plant congeners can exert strong indirect effects on ant colonies by means of plant-species-specific differences in aphid honeydew chemistry. Moreover, these effects changed ant behavior and thus could feed back to affect plant performance in the field. PMID:25505534

  13. The scent of mixtures: rules of odour processing in ants.

    PubMed

    Perez, Margot; Giurfa, Martin; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2015-03-02

    Natural odours are complex blends of numerous components. Understanding how animals perceive odour mixtures is central to multiple disciplines. Here we focused on carpenter ants, which rely on odours in various behavioural contexts. We studied overshadowing, a phenomenon that occurs when animals having learnt a binary mixture respond less to one component than to the other, and less than when this component was learnt alone. Ants were trained individually with alcohols and aldehydes varying in carbon-chain length, either as single odours or binary mixtures. They were then tested with the mixture and the components. Overshadowing resulted from the interaction between chain length and functional group: alcohols overshadowed aldehydes, and longer chain lengths overshadowed shorter ones; yet, combinations of these factors could cancel each other and suppress overshadowing. Our results show how ants treat binary olfactory mixtures and set the basis for predictive analyses of odour perception in insects.

  14. The scent of mixtures: rules of odour processing in ants

    PubMed Central

    Perez, Margot; Giurfa, Martin; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2015-01-01

    Natural odours are complex blends of numerous components. Understanding how animals perceive odour mixtures is central to multiple disciplines. Here we focused on carpenter ants, which rely on odours in various behavioural contexts. We studied overshadowing, a phenomenon that occurs when animals having learnt a binary mixture respond less to one component than to the other, and less than when this component was learnt alone. Ants were trained individually with alcohols and aldehydes varying in carbon-chain length, either as single odours or binary mixtures. They were then tested with the mixture and the components. Overshadowing resulted from the interaction between chain length and functional group: alcohols overshadowed aldehydes, and longer chain lengths overshadowed shorter ones; yet, combinations of these factors could cancel each other and suppress overshadowing. Our results show how ants treat binary olfactory mixtures and set the basis for predictive analyses of odour perception in insects. PMID:25726692

  15. The scent of mixtures: rules of odour processing in ants.

    PubMed

    Perez, Margot; Giurfa, Martin; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2015-01-01

    Natural odours are complex blends of numerous components. Understanding how animals perceive odour mixtures is central to multiple disciplines. Here we focused on carpenter ants, which rely on odours in various behavioural contexts. We studied overshadowing, a phenomenon that occurs when animals having learnt a binary mixture respond less to one component than to the other, and less than when this component was learnt alone. Ants were trained individually with alcohols and aldehydes varying in carbon-chain length, either as single odours or binary mixtures. They were then tested with the mixture and the components. Overshadowing resulted from the interaction between chain length and functional group: alcohols overshadowed aldehydes, and longer chain lengths overshadowed shorter ones; yet, combinations of these factors could cancel each other and suppress overshadowing. Our results show how ants treat binary olfactory mixtures and set the basis for predictive analyses of odour perception in insects. PMID:25726692

  16. Drivers of Spatial Variation in the Role of Ants as Secondary Seed Dispersers.

    PubMed

    Bottcher, C; Peixoto, P E C; Silva, W R; Pizo, M A

    2016-08-01

    The spatial variation in the outcome of the interaction between secondary dispersers and seeds is superimposed upon the variation produced by primary dispersers. Investigating the factors that drive the outcome of the interactions with secondary seed dispersers thus represents an essential refinement to our understanding of the complete seed dispersal process. We studied the interactions between two ponerine ants (Pachycondyla striata Smith, 1858 and Odontomachus chelifer (Latreille, 1802)) with fruits experimentally set on the ground, and estimated the effects of ants on seedling establishment in three areas distributed along a 2-km stretch of a Brazilian Atlantic rainforest that differ in soil properties and vegetation physiognomies. We tested the hypothesis that interactions are more frequent, resulting in greater seedling establishment at the site with harsher abiotic and biotic conditions. Both ant species removed fruits frequently and have a positive effect on seedling establishment in all study areas, but fruit removal did not differ among areas, while seedling establishment was more pronounced at the site with stressful abiotic conditions. The two ant species differed in important aspects of their seed dispersal services, including the propensity to interact with seeds. As a result, both the species of ant and abiotic conditions interact at the scale of 2 km to determine the fate of seeds interacting with ants, thus creating a mosaic of outcomes with variable benefits to plants. PMID:27298391

  17. Invasive ants disrupt frugivory by endemic island birds

    PubMed Central

    Davis, Naomi E.; O'Dowd, Dennis J.; Mac Nally, Ralph; Green, Peter T.

    2010-01-01

    Biological invasions can alter direct and indirect interactions between species, generating far-reaching changes in ecological networks that affect key ecological functions. We used model and real fruit assays to show that the invasion and formation of high-density supercolonies by the yellow crazy ant (YCA), Anoplolepis gracilipes, disrupt frugivory by endemic birds on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. The overall handling rates of model fruits by birds were 2.2–2.4-fold lower in ant-invaded than in uninvaded rainforest, and pecking rates by two bird species declined by 2.6- and 4.5-fold, respectively. YCAs directly interfered with frugivory; their experimental exclusion from fruiting displays increased fruit handling threefold to sixfold, compounding indirect effects of ant invasion on resources and habitat structure that influence bird abundances and behaviours. This invasive ant, whose high densities are sustained through mutualism with introduced scale insects, rapidly decreases fruit handling by endemic island birds and may erode a key ecological function, seed dispersal. Because most other invasive ant species form expansive, high-density supercolonies that depend in part on association with hemipteran mutualists, the effects that we report here on avian frugivore–plant associations may emerge across their introduced ranges. PMID:19755533

  18. Invasive ants disrupt frugivory by endemic island birds.

    PubMed

    Davis, Naomi E; O'Dowd, Dennis J; Mac Nally, Ralph; Green, Peter T

    2010-02-23

    Biological invasions can alter direct and indirect interactions between species, generating far-reaching changes in ecological networks that affect key ecological functions. We used model and real fruit assays to show that the invasion and formation of high-density supercolonies by the yellow crazy ant (YCA), Anoplolepis gracilipes, disrupt frugivory by endemic birds on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. The overall handling rates of model fruits by birds were 2.2-2.4-fold lower in ant-invaded than in uninvaded rainforest, and pecking rates by two bird species declined by 2.6- and 4.5-fold, respectively. YCAs directly interfered with frugivory; their experimental exclusion from fruiting displays increased fruit handling threefold to sixfold, compounding indirect effects of ant invasion on resources and habitat structure that influence bird abundances and behaviours. This invasive ant, whose high densities are sustained through mutualism with introduced scale insects, rapidly decreases fruit handling by endemic island birds and may erode a key ecological function, seed dispersal. Because most other invasive ant species form expansive, high-density supercolonies that depend in part on association with hemipteran mutualists, the effects that we report here on avian frugivore-plant associations may emerge across their introduced ranges.

  19. Consequences of forest clear-cuts for native and nonindigenous ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Zettler, J.A.; Taylor, M.D.; Allen, C.R.; Spira, T.P.

    2004-01-01

    Currently, the southern United States produces more timber than any other region in the world. Entire timber stands are removed through a harvesting method called clear-cutting. This common forestry practice may lead to the replacement of native ant communities with invasive, nonindigenous species. In four deciduous forest sites in South Carolina, we monitored the change in ant species richness, diversity, and abundance immediately after forest clearing for a period of 15 mo to 2 yr and determined the incidence of colonization of the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta into these four newly disturbed sites. Each site consisted of an uncut, forested plot and a logged, pine-planted plot. Fire ants were collected in clear-cuts as early as 3 mo postcutting, and by the end of the experiment, they were found in all four treatment sites. Our study is the first to document, through a controlled experiment, that clear-cutting alters ant species assemblages by increasing S. invicta and Pheidole spp. populations and significantly reducing native ant numbers. Long-term studies are needed to assess how replacing native deciduous forests with pine monocultures affects ant assemblages. ?? 2004 Entomological Society of America.

  20. Ants in a Labyrinth: A Statistical Mechanics Approach to the Division of Labour

    PubMed Central

    Richardson, Thomas Owen; Christensen, Kim; Franks, Nigel Rigby; Jensen, Henrik Jeldtoft; Sendova-Franks, Ana Blagovestova

    2011-01-01

    Division of labour (DoL) is a fundamental organisational principle in human societies, within virtual and robotic swarms and at all levels of biological organisation. DoL reaches a pinnacle in the insect societies where the most widely used model is based on variation in response thresholds among individuals, and the assumption that individuals and stimuli are well-mixed. Here, we present a spatially explicit model of DoL. Our model is inspired by Pierre de Gennes' 'Ant in a Labyrinth' which laid the foundations of an entire new field in statistical mechanics. We demonstrate the emergence, even in a simplified one-dimensional model, of a spatial patterning of individuals and a right-skewed activity distribution, both of which are characteristics of division of labour in animal societies. We then show using a two-dimensional model that the work done by an individual within an activity bout is a sigmoidal function of its response threshold. Furthermore, there is an inverse relationship between the overall stimulus level and the skewness of the activity distribution. Therefore, the difference in the amount of work done by two individuals with different thresholds increases as the overall stimulus level decreases. Indeed, spatial fluctuations of task stimuli are minimised at these low stimulus levels. Hence, the more unequally labour is divided amongst individuals, the greater the ability of the colony to maintain homeostasis. Finally, we show that the non-random spatial distribution of individuals within biological and social systems could be caused by indirect (stigmergic) interactions, rather than direct agent-to-agent interactions. Our model links the principle of DoL with principles in the statistical mechanics and provides testable hypotheses for future experiments. PMID:21541019

  1. Ancestral developmental potential facilitates parallel evolution in ants.

    PubMed

    Rajakumar, Rajendhran; San Mauro, Diego; Dijkstra, Michiel B; Huang, Ming H; Wheeler, Diana E; Hiou-Tim, Francois; Khila, Abderrahman; Cournoyea, Michael; Abouheif, Ehab

    2012-01-01

    Complex worker caste systems have contributed to the evolutionary success of advanced ant societies; however, little is known about the developmental processes underlying their origin and evolution. We combined hormonal manipulation, gene expression, and phylogenetic analyses with field observations to understand how novel worker subcastes evolve. We uncovered an ancestral developmental potential to produce a "supersoldier" subcaste that has been actualized at least two times independently in the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole. This potential has been retained and can be environmentally induced throughout the genus. Therefore, the retention and induction of this potential have facilitated the parallel evolution of supersoldiers through a process known as genetic accommodation. The recurrent induction of ancestral developmental potential may facilitate the adaptive and parallel evolution of phenotypes.

  2. Ants medicate to fight disease.

    PubMed

    Bos, Nick; Sundström, Liselotte; Fuchs, Siiri; Freitak, Dalial

    2015-11-01

    Parasites are ubiquitous, and the ability to defend against these is of paramount importance. One way to fight diseases is self-medication, which occurs when an organism consumes biologically active compounds to clear, inhibit, or alleviate disease symptoms. Here, we show for the first time that ants selectively consume harmful substances (reactive oxygen species, ROS) upon exposure to a fungal pathogen, yet avoid these in the absence of infection. This increased intake of ROS, while harmful to healthy ants, leads to higher survival of exposed ants. The fact that ingestion of this substance carries a fitness cost in the absence of pathogens rules out compensatory diet choice as the mechanism, and provides evidence that social insects medicate themselves against fungal infection, using a substance that carries a fitness cost to uninfected individuals.

  3. Random behaviour, amplification processes and number of participants: How they contribute to the foraging properties of ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Deneubourg, J. L.; Aron, S.; Goss, S.; Pasteels, J. M.; Duerinck, G.

    1986-10-01

    Two major types of foraging organisation in ants are described and compared, being illustrated with experimental data and mathematical models. The first concerns large colonies of identical, unspecialised foragers. The communication and interaction between foragers and their randomness generates collective and efficient structures. The second concerns small societies of deterministic and specialised foragers, rarely communicating together. The first organisation is discussed in relation to the different recruitment mechanisms, trail-following error, quality and degree of aggregation of food-sources, and territorial marking, and is the key to many types of collective behaviour in social insects. The second is discussed in relation to spatial specialisation, foraging density, individual learning and genetic programming. The two organisations may be associated in the same colony. The choice of organisation is discussed in relation to colony size and size and predictability of food sources.

  4. Myrmecochores can target high-quality disperser ants: variation in elaiosome traits and ant preferences for myrmecochorous Euphorbiaceae in Brazilian Caatinga.

    PubMed

    Leal, Laura Carolina; Lima Neto, Mário Correia; de Oliveira, Antônio Fernando Morais; Andersen, Alan N; Leal, Inara R

    2014-02-01

    Recent evidence suggests that the traditional view of myrmecochory as a highly diffuse interaction between diaspores and a wide range of ant species attracted to their elaiosomes may not be correct. The effectiveness of dispersal varies markedly among ant species, and combined with differential attractiveness of diaspores due to elaiosome size and composition, this raises the potential for myrmecochorous plants to target ant species that offer the highest quality dispersal services. We ask the question: Do particular physical and chemical traits of elaiosomes result in disproportionate removal of Euphorbiaceae diaspores by high-quality disperser ants in Caatinga vegetation of north-eastern Brazil? We offered seeds of five euphorb species that varied in morphological and chemical traits of elaiosomes to seed-dispersing ants. High-quality seed-disperser ants (species of Dinoponera, Ectatomma and Camponotus) were identified as those that rapidly collected and transported diaspores to their nests, often over substantial distances, whereas low-quality disperser ants (primarily species of Pheidole and Solenopsis) typically fed on elaiosomes in situ, and only ever transported diaspores very short distances. Low-quality disperser ants were equally attracted to the elaiosomes of all study species. However, high-quality dispersers showed a strong preference for diaspores with the highest elaiosome mass (and especially proportional mass). As far as we are aware, this is the first study to identify a mechanism of diaspore selection by high-quality ant dispersers based on elaiosome traits under field conditions. Our findings suggest that myrmecochorous plants can preferentially target high-quality seed-disperser ants through the evolution of particular elaiosome traits. PMID:24085639

  5. [Ants and aliens. An episode in the history of entomological and sociological construction of knowledge].

    PubMed

    Werber, Niels

    2011-09-01

    The frequent use of biological metaphors in descriptions of society is well known and has already been investigated. Even the traces of biological theory in sociology have been explored. In this field of science, studies of social insects play an important role, because ants, bees, and termites have been considered to be genuinely political animals and founders of societies. Like men, social insects exist only in collectives; thus, the entomologist's research directs him from the individual insect, its morphology and taxonomy to the analysis of insect societies. Entomologists like Wheeler or Wilson become sociologists and develop methods to deal with a society whose members are dumb, soulless, without reason, rational choice, or motives. Tools invented to describe the evolution of insect societies have been picked up by sociological founders of systems theory like Parsons or Luhmann, who were busy building a theory of a society, which for heuristic reasons is not composed of men (individuals with souls, motives, consciousness and so on) but rather of communications, media, or codes. My paper treats 1.) the genealogy of this discursive mixture of problems, methods, and focuses on 2.) the rhetorical dimension of this entomological-sociological passage. I will sketch certain 'evident' pictures of society, which function as media of a subliminal crossing of entomological and sociological premises, models, and assumptions. Both can be found in novels like Wilson's Anthill, which this paper analyzes with respect to the concepts of society implied by them, that is, concepts whose blueprints are based on models of an ant society.

  6. The similarity and difference between ant and human ultrasocieties: From the viewpoint of scaling laws.

    PubMed

    Hou, Chen

    2016-01-01

    Complementary to Gowdy & Krall's comparison between ants and humans, I use economy scaling laws to discuss the similarity and difference between them quantitatively. I hypothesize that individual variations in society result in higher energetic efficiency in larger groups, and that the difference in the sustainability between these species originates from the driving forces of growth with different scaling powers. PMID:27562828

  7. Trafficlike Collective Movement of Ants on Trails: Absence of a Jammed Phase

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    John, Alexander; Schadschneider, Andreas; Chowdhury, Debashish; Nishinari, Katsuhiro

    2009-03-01

    We report experimental results on unidirectional trafficlike collective movement of ants on trails. Our work is primarily motivated by fundamental questions on the collective spatiotemporal organization in systems of interacting motile constituents driven far from equilibrium. Making use of the analogies with vehicular traffic, we analyze our experimental data for the spatiotemporal organization of ants on a trail. From this analysis, we extract the flow-density relation as well as the distributions of velocities of the ants and distance headways. Some of our observations are consistent with our earlier models of ant traffic, which are appropriate extensions of the asymmetric simple exclusion process. In sharp contrast to highway traffic and most other transport processes, the average velocity of the ants is almost independent of their density on the trail. Consequently, no jammed phase is observed.

  8. A selection mosaic in the facultative mutualism between ants and wild cotton.

    PubMed Central

    Rudgers, Jennifer A.; Strauss, Sharon Y.

    2004-01-01

    In protection mutualisms, one mutualist defends its partner against a natural enemy in exchange for a reward, usually food or shelter. For both partners, the costs and benefits of these interactions often vary considerably in space because the outcome (positive, negative or neutral) depends on the local abundance of at least three species: the protector, the beneficiary of protection and the beneficiary's natural enemy. In Gossypium thurberi (wild cotton), ants benefit nutritionally from the plant's extrafloral nectaries and guard plants from herbivores. Experimentally altering the availability of both ants and extrafloral nectar in three populations demonstrated that the mutualism is facultative, depending, in part, on the abundance of ants and the level of herbivore damage. The species composition of ants and a parasitic alga that clogs extrafloral nectaries were also implicated in altering the outcome of plant-ant interactions. Furthermore, experimental treatments that excluded ants (the putative selective agents) in combination with phenotypic selection analyses revealed that selection on extrafloral nectary traits was mediated by ants and, importantly, varied across populations. This work is some of the first to manipulate interactions experimentally across multiple sites and thereby document that geographically variable selection, mediated by a mutualist, can shape the evolution of plant traits. PMID:15590599

  9. Steep Decline and Cessation in Seed Dispersal by Myrmica rubra Ants

    PubMed Central

    2015-01-01

    Myrmecochorous diaspores bear a nutrient-rich appendage, the elaiosome, attractive to ant workers that retrieve them into the nest, detach the elaiosome and reject the seed intact. While this interaction is beneficial for the plant partner by ensuring its seed dispersal, elaiosome consumption has various effects −positive, negative or none − on ants’ demography and survival, depending on both the ant/plant species involved. In this context, the contribution of ants to seed dispersal strongly varies according to the ant/plant pairs considered. In this paper, we investigate whether the dynamics of myrmecochory also vary on a temporal scale, for a given pair of partners: Myrmica rubra ants and Viola odorata seeds. During their first encounter with seeds, ants collect all the diaspores and eat the majority of elaiosomes. Both the harvesting effort and the elaiosome consumption decline when seeds are offered on the next week and completely cease for the following weeks. This is related to a decrease in the number of foragers reaching the food source, as well as to a reduced probability for an ant contacting a seed to retrieve it. Seed retrieval is not reactivated after seven weeks without any encounter with V. odorata seeds. By contrast, naive ant colonies only fed with fruit flies do not show a decline of prey harvesting of which the speed of retrieval even increases over the successive weeks. Myrmecochory may thus be labile at the scale of a fruiting season due to the ability of ants to steeply tune and cease for several months the harvesting of these seemingly poorly rewarding items and to maintain cessation of seed exploitation. The present study emphasizes the importance of a long-lasting follow up of the myrmecochory process, to assess the stability of this ant-plant partnership and to identify mechanisms of adaptive harvesting in ants. PMID:26414161

  10. Ant opsins: sequences from the Saharan silver ant and the carpenter ant.

    PubMed

    Popp, M P; Grisshammer, R; Hargrave, P A; Smith, W C

    1996-03-01

    cDNA clones encoding opsins from compound eyes of carpenter ant, Camponotus abdominalis, and Saharan silver ant, Cataglyphis bombycina, were isolated from cDNA libraries. The opsin cDNAs from each species code for deduced proteins with 378 amino acids which are 92% identical. Of the 30 amino acid differences between the two proteins, 13 are non-conservative. Eight of these non-conservative substitutions are within the membrane spanning domain. The presence of a potential Schiff-base counterion in helix III in both species suggests that these opsins are the protein moiety of the visible range pigments. When compared to all known opsins, these opsins are most similar to the opsin from preying mantis (76% identity at the amino acid level). Phyletic comparisons group the two ant opsins with the other arthropod long wavelength opsins.

  11. Ant opsins: sequences from the Saharan silver ant and the carpenter ant.

    PubMed

    Popp, M P; Grisshammer, R; Hargrave, P A; Smith, W C

    1996-03-01

    cDNA clones encoding opsins from compound eyes of carpenter ant, Camponotus abdominalis, and Saharan silver ant, Cataglyphis bombycina, were isolated from cDNA libraries. The opsin cDNAs from each species code for deduced proteins with 378 amino acids which are 92% identical. Of the 30 amino acid differences between the two proteins, 13 are non-conservative. Eight of these non-conservative substitutions are within the membrane spanning domain. The presence of a potential Schiff-base counterion in helix III in both species suggests that these opsins are the protein moiety of the visible range pigments. When compared to all known opsins, these opsins are most similar to the opsin from preying mantis (76% identity at the amino acid level). Phyletic comparisons group the two ant opsins with the other arthropod long wavelength opsins. PMID:9372150

  12. Biological control of red imported fire ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Two species of Imported Fire Ants (IFA), the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, and the Black Imported Fire Ant, S. richteri Forel, were introduced into the United States in the early 1900s and currently inhabit over 320 million acres in the southern United States and Puerto Rico. Red ...

  13. Using Ants To Investigate the Environment.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hagevik, Rita A.

    2003-01-01

    Describes three inquiry-based activities designed for students to begin to understand complex environmental relationships in their own backyard. Includes investigations of ants, which allow students to establish a baseline survey of ant fauna, test the importance of ants in nutrient cycling and soil structure maintenances, and increase student…

  14. Using Ants to Investigate the Environment

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hagevik, Rita A.

    2005-01-01

    The best place for students to begin to understand complex environmental relationships is in their own back yards. Doing investigations of ants allows students to establish a baseline survey of ant fauna, test the importance of ants in nutrient cycling and soil structure maintenance, and increase their understanding of the environment and their…

  15. Raves & rants about invasive crazy ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Crazy ants” is a name that refers to various species of ants that are characterized by erratic, scurrying, or running, behavior when disturbed. Two of these species, the yellow crazy ant and the Caribbean or Rasberry [sic] crazy ant, are invasive with extremely large populations that inundate lands...

  16. Explosive adaptive radiation and extreme phenotypic diversity within ant-nest beetles.

    PubMed

    Moore, Wendy; Robertson, James A

    2014-10-20

    Ant-nest beetles (Paussus) are the quintessential Trojan horses of the insect world. They hack the complex communication system of ants, allowing them to blend into the ant society and be treated as royalty, all the while preying upon the ants and the ants' brood and duping the ants into rearing their young. Here we present results of the first molecular-based phylogeny of ant-nest beetles, which reveals that this symbiosis has produced one of the most stunning examples of rapid adaptive radiation documented to date. The most recent ancestor of a Paussus clade endemic to Madagascar is only 2.6 million years old. This species gave rise to a remarkably phenotypically diverse clade of 86 extant species with a net diversification interval of 0.38-0.81 million years, a rate of radiation faster than classic textbook examples of large, recent, rapid radiations such as Anolis lizards on Caribbean islands, cichlids of the East African Great Lakes, finches on the Galápagos Islands, and Drosophila and tetragnathid spiders on the Hawaiian Islands. In order for Paussus to adapt to a new host ant species, the beetle's ability to perceive, deceive, and communicate with the new host must evolve quickly and in synchrony in both the larval and adult life stages, resulting in unusually strong selective pressure levied by their host ants. Data on host associations suggest that the history of host shifts may help explain both the striking phenotypic diversity within the Malagasy radiation and the evolution of phenotypically similar yet distantly related species in Madagascar and Africa.

  17. Ant-fungus species combinations engineer physiological activity of fungus gardens.

    PubMed

    Seal, J N; Schiøtt, M; Mueller, U G

    2014-07-15

    Fungus-gardening insects are among the most complex organisms because of their extensive co-evolutionary histories with obligate fungal symbionts and other microbes. Some fungus-gardening insect lineages share fungal symbionts with other members of their lineage and thus exhibit diffuse co-evolutionary relationships, while others exhibit little or no symbiont sharing, resulting in host-fungus fidelity. The mechanisms that maintain this symbiont fidelity are currently unknown. Prior work suggested that derived leaf-cutting ants in the genus Atta interact synergistically with leaf-cutter fungi (Attamyces) by exhibiting higher fungal growth rates and enzymatic activities than when growing a fungus from the sister-clade to Attamyces (so-called 'Trachymyces'), grown primarily by the non-leaf cutting Trachymyrmex ants that form, correspondingly, the sister-clade to leaf-cutting ants. To elucidate the enzymatic bases of host-fungus specialization in leaf-cutting ants, we conducted a reciprocal fungus-switch experiment between the ant Atta texana and the ant Trachymyrmex arizonensis and report measured enzymatic activities of switched and sham-switched fungus gardens to digest starch, pectin, xylan, cellulose and casein. Gardens exhibited higher amylase and pectinase activities when A. texana ants cultivated Attamyces compared with Trachymyces fungi, consistent with enzymatic specialization. In contrast, gardens showed comparable amylase and pectinase activities when T. arizonensis cultivated either fungal species. Although gardens of leaf-cutting ants are not known to be significant metabolizers of cellulose, T. arizonensis were able to maintain gardens with significant cellulase activity when growing either fungal species. In contrast to carbohydrate metabolism, protease activity was significantly higher in Attamyces than in Trachymyces, regardless of the ant host. Activity of some enzymes employed by this symbiosis therefore arises from complex interactions between the

  18. Water Stress Strengthens Mutualism Among Ants, Trees, and Scale Insects

    PubMed Central

    Pringle, Elizabeth G.; Akçay, Erol; Raab, Ted K.; Dirzo, Rodolfo; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2013-01-01

    Abiotic environmental variables strongly affect the outcomes of species interactions. For example, mutualistic interactions between species are often stronger when resources are limited. The effect might be indirect: water stress on plants can lead to carbon stress, which could alter carbon-mediated plant mutualisms. In mutualistic ant–plant symbioses, plants host ant colonies that defend them against herbivores. Here we show that the partners' investments in a widespread ant–plant symbiosis increase with water stress across 26 sites along a Mesoamerican precipitation gradient. At lower precipitation levels, Cordia alliodora trees invest more carbon in Azteca ants via phloem-feeding scale insects that provide the ants with sugars, and the ants provide better defense of the carbon-producing leaves. Under water stress, the trees have smaller carbon pools. A model of the carbon trade-offs for the mutualistic partners shows that the observed strategies can arise from the carbon costs of rare but extreme events of herbivory in the rainy season. Thus, water limitation, together with the risk of herbivory, increases the strength of a carbon-based mutualism. PMID:24223521

  19. Reconstructing Death in Postmodern Society.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kastenbaum, Robert

    1993-01-01

    Examines interaction between emerging thanatological movement and its sociohistorical context. Notes that thanatology will take on new shape as individuals and society attempt to cope with postmodernistic forces and deconstructive mentality. Considers prospect for authentic solidarity against distress in reconstructed death system. (Author/NB)

  20. Salticid predation as one potential driving force of ant mimicry in jumping spiders.

    PubMed

    Huang, Jin-Nan; Cheng, Ren-Chung; Li, Daiqin; Tso, I-Min

    2011-05-01

    Many spiders possess myrmecomorphy, and species of the jumping spider genus Myrmarachne exhibit nearly perfect ant mimicry. Most salticids are diurnal predators with unusually high visual acuity that prey on various arthropods, including conspecifics. In this study, we tested whether predation pressure from large jumping spiders is one possible driving force of perfect ant mimicry in jumping spiders. The results showed that small non-ant-mimicking jumping spiders were readily treated as prey by large ones (no matter whether heterospecific or conspecific) and suffered high attack and mortality rates. The size difference between small and large jumping spiders significantly affected the outcomes of predatory interactions between them: the smaller the juvenile jumping spiders, the higher the predation risk from large ones. The attack and mortality rates of ant-mimicking jumping spiders were significantly lower than those of non-ant-mimicking jumping spiders, indicating that a resemblance to ants could provide protection against salticid predation. However, results of multivariate behavioural analyses showed that the responses of large jumping spiders to ants and ant-mimicking salticids differed significantly. Results of this study indicate that predation pressure from large jumping spiders might be one selection force driving the evolution of nearly perfect myrmecomorphy in spiders and other arthropods.

  1. Salticid predation as one potential driving force of ant mimicry in jumping spiders.

    PubMed

    Huang, Jin-Nan; Cheng, Ren-Chung; Li, Daiqin; Tso, I-Min

    2011-05-01

    Many spiders possess myrmecomorphy, and species of the jumping spider genus Myrmarachne exhibit nearly perfect ant mimicry. Most salticids are diurnal predators with unusually high visual acuity that prey on various arthropods, including conspecifics. In this study, we tested whether predation pressure from large jumping spiders is one possible driving force of perfect ant mimicry in jumping spiders. The results showed that small non-ant-mimicking jumping spiders were readily treated as prey by large ones (no matter whether heterospecific or conspecific) and suffered high attack and mortality rates. The size difference between small and large jumping spiders significantly affected the outcomes of predatory interactions between them: the smaller the juvenile jumping spiders, the higher the predation risk from large ones. The attack and mortality rates of ant-mimicking jumping spiders were significantly lower than those of non-ant-mimicking jumping spiders, indicating that a resemblance to ants could provide protection against salticid predation. However, results of multivariate behavioural analyses showed that the responses of large jumping spiders to ants and ant-mimicking salticids differed significantly. Results of this study indicate that predation pressure from large jumping spiders might be one selection force driving the evolution of nearly perfect myrmecomorphy in spiders and other arthropods. PMID:20961898

  2. Isolation of a pyrazine alarm pheromone component from the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta.

    PubMed

    Vander Meer, Robert K; Preston, Catherine A; Choi, Man-Yeon

    2010-02-01

    Alarm pheromones in social insects are an essential part of a complex of pheromone interactions that contribute to the maintenance of colony integrity and sociality. The alarm pheromones of ants were among the first examples of animal pheromones identified, primarily because of the large amount of chemical produced and the distinctive responses of ants to the pheromone. However, the alarm pheromone of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, eluded identification for over four decades. We identified 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazine as an alarm pheromone component of S. invicta. Worker fire ants detect the pyrazine alarm pheromone at 30 pg/ml, which is comparable to alarm pheromone sensitivities reported for other ant species. The source of this alarm pheromone are the mandibular glands, which, in fire ants, are not well developed and contain only about 300 pg of the compound, much less than the microgram quantities of alarm pheromones reported for several other ant species. Female and male sexuals and workers produce the pyrazine, which suggests that it may be involved in fire ant mating flight initiation, as well as the typical worker alarm response. This is the first report of 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazine from a Solenopsis species and the first example of this alkaloid functioning as an alarm pheromone. PMID:20145982

  3. The demographic consequences of mutualism: ants increase host-plant fruit production but not population growth.

    PubMed

    Ford, Kevin R; Ness, Joshua H; Bronstein, Judith L; Morris, William F

    2015-10-01

    The impact of mutualists on a partner's demography depends on how they affect the partner's multiple vital rates and how those vital rates, in turn, affect population growth. However, mutualism studies rarely measure effects on multiple vital rates or integrate them to assess the ultimate impact on population growth. We used vital rate data, population models and simulations of long-term population dynamics to quantify the demographic impact of a guild of ant species on the plant Ferocactus wislizeni. The ants feed at the plant's extrafloral nectaries and attack herbivores attempting to consume reproductive organs. Ant-guarded plants produced significantly more fruit, but ants had no significant effect on individual growth or survival. After integrating ant effects across these vital rates, we found that projected population growth was not significantly different between unguarded and ant-guarded plants because population growth was only weakly influenced by differences in fruit production (though strongly influenced by differences in individual growth and survival). However, simulations showed that ants could positively affect long-term plant population dynamics through services provided during rare but important events (herbivore outbreaks that reduce survival or years of high seedling recruitment associated with abundant precipitation). Thus, in this seemingly clear example of mutualism, the interaction may actually yield no clear benefit to plant population growth, or if it does, may only do so through the actions of the ants during rare events. These insights demonstrate the value of taking a demographic approach to studying the consequences of mutualism.

  4. Salticid predation as one potential driving force of ant mimicry in jumping spiders

    PubMed Central

    Huang, Jin-Nan; Cheng, Ren-Chung; Li, Daiqin; Tso, I-Min

    2011-01-01

    Many spiders possess myrmecomorphy, and species of the jumping spider genus Myrmarachne exhibit nearly perfect ant mimicry. Most salticids are diurnal predators with unusually high visual acuity that prey on various arthropods, including conspecifics. In this study, we tested whether predation pressure from large jumping spiders is one possible driving force of perfect ant mimicry in jumping spiders. The results showed that small non-ant-mimicking jumping spiders were readily treated as prey by large ones (no matter whether heterospecific or conspecific) and suffered high attack and mortality rates. The size difference between small and large jumping spiders significantly affected the outcomes of predatory interactions between them: the smaller the juvenile jumping spiders, the higher the predation risk from large ones. The attack and mortality rates of ant-mimicking jumping spiders were significantly lower than those of non-ant-mimicking jumping spiders, indicating that a resemblance to ants could provide protection against salticid predation. However, results of multivariate behavioural analyses showed that the responses of large jumping spiders to ants and ant-mimicking salticids differed significantly. Results of this study indicate that predation pressure from large jumping spiders might be one selection force driving the evolution of nearly perfect myrmecomorphy in spiders and other arthropods. PMID:20961898

  5. Ants, Wasps, and Bees (Hymenoptera)

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Stinging wasps, bees, and ants are a problem for farm workers, particularly at harvest when these insects are attracted to ripe fruits. Researchers at the USDA-ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, Wapato, WA, together with personnel at Oral Roberts University compiled available information o...

  6. Ant Ecdysteroid Extraction and Radioimmunoassay

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Ecdysteroids are a group of steroid compounds present in many plant and invertebrate species. In arthropods, they function primarily as hormones involved in the regulation of molting. This protocol describes how to extract ecdysteroid hormones from ant specimens and subsequently quantify circulating...

  7. Optimal cue integration in ants.

    PubMed

    Wystrach, Antoine; Mangan, Michael; Webb, Barbara

    2015-10-01

    In situations with redundant or competing sensory information, humans have been shown to perform cue integration, weighting different cues according to their certainty in a quantifiably optimal manner. Ants have been shown to merge the directional information available from their path integration (PI) and visual memory, but as yet it is not clear that they do so in a way that reflects the relative certainty of the cues. In this study, we manipulate the variance of the PI home vector by allowing ants (Cataglyphis velox) to run different distances and testing their directional choice when the PI vector direction is put in competition with visual memory. Ants show progressively stronger weighting of their PI direction as PI length increases. The weighting is quantitatively predicted by modelling the expected directional variance of home vectors of different lengths and assuming optimal cue integration. However, a subsequent experiment suggests ants may not actually compute an internal estimate of the PI certainty, but are using the PI home vector length as a proxy.

  8. Beneficial Effects of Ants and Spiders on the Reproductive Value of Eriotheca gracilipes (Malvaceae) in a Tropical Savanna

    PubMed Central

    2015-01-01

    Predators affect plant fitness when they forage on them and reduce the action of herbivores. Our study evaluates the complementary effects of spiders and ants that visit the extrafloral nectaries of Eriotheca gracilipes (Malvaceae) on the production of fruits and viable seeds of these savanna trees. Four experimental groups were established: control group – with free access of spiders and ants; exclusion group – spiders and ants excluded; ant group – absence of spiders; and spider group – absence of ants. The presence of ants reduced the spider richness; however, the presence of spiders did not affect the ant richness. A significantly higher number of fruits per buds were found in the presence of spiders alone or spiders and ants together (control group) compared with the absence of both predators (exclusion group). The number of seeds per fruits and seed viability were higher in the control group. This is the first study showing that spiders and ants may exert a positive and complementary effect on the reproductive value of an extrafloral nectaried plant. Mostly the impact of ants and/or spiders on herbivores is considered, whereas our study reinforces the importance of evaluating the effect of multiple predators simultaneously, exploring how the interactions among predators with distinct skills may affect the herbivores and the plants on which they forage. PMID:26168036

  9. Beneficial Effects of Ants and Spiders on the Reproductive Value of Eriotheca gracilipes (Malvaceae) in a Tropical Savanna.

    PubMed

    Stefani, Vanessa; Pires, Tayna Lopes; Torezan-Silingardi, Helena Maura; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2015-01-01

    Predators affect plant fitness when they forage on them and reduce the action of herbivores. Our study evaluates the complementary effects of spiders and ants that visit the extrafloral nectaries of Eriotheca gracilipes (Malvaceae) on the production of fruits and viable seeds of these savanna trees. Four experimental groups were established: control group - with free access of spiders and ants; exclusion group - spiders and ants excluded; ant group - absence of spiders; and spider group - absence of ants. The presence of ants reduced the spider richness; however, the presence of spiders did not affect the ant richness. A significantly higher number of fruits per buds were found in the presence of spiders alone or spiders and ants together (control group) compared with the absence of both predators (exclusion group). The number of seeds per fruits and seed viability were higher in the control group. This is the first study showing that spiders and ants may exert a positive and complementary effect on the reproductive value of an extrafloral nectaried plant. Mostly the impact of ants and/or spiders on herbivores is considered, whereas our study reinforces the importance of evaluating the effect of multiple predators simultaneously, exploring how the interactions among predators with distinct skills may affect the herbivores and the plants on which they forage.

  10. Evolutional Ant Colony Method Using PSO

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morii, Nobuto; Aiyoshi, Eitarou

    The ant colony method is one of heuristic methods capable of solving the traveling salesman problem (TSP), in which a good tour is generated by the artificial ant's probabilistic behavior. However, the generated tour length depends on the parameter describing the ant's behavior, and the best parameters corresponding to the problem to be solved is unknown. In this technical note, the evolutional strategy is presented to find the best parameter of the ant colony by using Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) in the parameter space. Numerical simulations for benchmarks demonstrate effectiveness of the evolutional ant colony method.

  11. Tournaments and slavery in a desert ant.

    PubMed

    Hölldobler, B

    1976-05-28

    Many species of ants engage in physical fighting when territorial borders are challenged. In contrast, colonies of the honeypot ant species Myrmecocystus mimicus conduct ritualized tournaments, in which hundreds of ants perform highly stereotyped display fights. Opposing colonies summon their worker forces to the tournament area by means of an alarm-recruitment system. When one colony is considerably stronger than the other, the tournament quickly ends, and the weaker colony is raided and its ants "enslaved." This is the first example of intraspecific slavery recorded in ants.

  12. Methods for Casting Subterranean Ant Nests

    PubMed Central

    Tschinkel, Walter R.

    2010-01-01

    The study of subterranean ant nests has been impeded by the difficulty of rendering their structures in visible form. Here, several different casting materials are shown to make perfect casts of the underground nests of ants. Each material (dental plaster, paraffin wax, aluminum, zinc) has advantages and limitations, which are discussed. Some of the materials allow the recovery of the ants entombed in the casts, allowing a census of the ants to be connected with features of their nest architecture. The necessary equipment and procedures are described in the hope that more researchers will study this very important aspect of ant natural history. PMID:20673073

  13. Reduced entomopathogen abundance in Myrmica ant nests-testing a possible immunological benefit of myrmecophily using Galleria mellonella as a model.

    PubMed

    Schär, Sämi; Larsen, Louise L M; Meyling, Nicolai V; Nash, David R

    2015-10-01

    Social insects such as ants have evolved collective rather than individual immune defence strategies against diseases and parasites at the level of their societies (colonies), known as social immunity. Ants frequently host other arthropods, so-called myrmecophiles, in their nests. Here, we tested the hypothesis that myrmecophily may partly arise from selection for exploiting the ants' social immunity. We used larvae of the wax moth Galleria mellonella as 'model myrmecophiles' (baits) to test this hypothesis. We found significantly reduced abundance of entomopathogens in ant nests compared with the surrounding environment. Specific entomopathogen groups (Isaria fumosorosea and nematodes) were also found to be significantly less abundant inside than outside ant nests, whereas one entomopathogen (Beauveria brongniartii) was significantly more abundant inside nests. We therefore hypothesize that immunological benefits of entering ant nests may provide us a new explanation of why natural selection acts in favour of such a life-history strategy.

  14. Do additional sugar sources affect the degree of attendance of Dysmicoccus brevipes by the fire ant Solenopsis geminata?

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Mutualistic interactions between ants and Hemiptera are mediated to large extent by the amount and quality of sugar-rich honeydew produced. Throughout the neotropics, the fire ant Solenopsis geminata (F.) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is found in association with colonies of the pineapple mealybug Dysmi...

  15. Quantifying ant activity using vibration measurements.

    PubMed

    Oberst, Sebastian; Baro, Enrique Nava; Lai, Joseph C S; Evans, Theodore A

    2014-01-01

    Ant behaviour is of great interest due to their sociality. Ant behaviour is typically observed visually, however there are many circumstances where visual observation is not possible. It may be possible to assess ant behaviour using vibration signals produced by their physical movement. We demonstrate through a series of bioassays with different stimuli that the level of activity of meat ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus) can be quantified using vibrations, corresponding to observations with video. We found that ants exposed to physical shaking produced the highest average vibration amplitudes followed by ants with stones to drag, then ants with neighbours, illuminated ants and ants in darkness. In addition, we devised a novel method based on wavelet decomposition to separate the vibration signal owing to the initial ant behaviour from the substrate response, which will allow signals recorded from different substrates to be compared directly. Our results indicate the potential to use vibration signals to classify some ant behaviours in situations where visual observation could be difficult.

  16. Antennal RNA-sequencing analysis reveals evolutionary aspects of chemosensory proteins in the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus

    PubMed Central

    Hojo, Masaru K.; Ishii, Kenichi; Sakura, Midori; Yamaguchi, Katsushi; Shigenobu, Shuji; Ozaki, Mamiko

    2015-01-01

    Chemical communication is essential for the coordination of complex organisation in ant societies. Recent comparative genomic approaches have revealed that chemosensory genes are diversified in ant lineages, and suggest that this diversification is crucial for social organisation. However, how such diversified genes shape the peripheral chemosensory systems remains unknown. In this study, we annotated and analysed the gene expression profiles of chemosensory proteins (CSPs), which transport lipophilic compounds toward chemosensory receptors in the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus. Transcriptome analysis revealed 12 CSP genes and phylogenetic analysis showed that 3 of these are lineage-specifically expanded in the clade of ants. RNA sequencing and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed that, among the ant specific CSP genes, two of them (CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13) were specifically expressed in the chemosensory organs and differentially expressed amongst ant castes. Furthermore, CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13 had a ratio of divergence at non-synonymous and synonymous sites (dN/dS) greater than 1, and they were co-expressed with CjapCSP1, which is known to bind cuticular hydrocarbons. Our results suggested that CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13 were functionally differentiated for ant-specific chemosensory events, and that CjapCSP1, CjapCSP12, and CjapCSP13 work cooperatively in the antennal chemosensilla of worker ants. PMID:26310137

  17. Antennal RNA-sequencing analysis reveals evolutionary aspects of chemosensory proteins in the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus.

    PubMed

    Hojo, Masaru K; Ishii, Kenichi; Sakura, Midori; Yamaguchi, Katsushi; Shigenobu, Shuji; Ozaki, Mamiko

    2015-08-27

    Chemical communication is essential for the coordination of complex organisation in ant societies. Recent comparative genomic approaches have revealed that chemosensory genes are diversified in ant lineages, and suggest that this diversification is crucial for social organisation. However, how such diversified genes shape the peripheral chemosensory systems remains unknown. In this study, we annotated and analysed the gene expression profiles of chemosensory proteins (CSPs), which transport lipophilic compounds toward chemosensory receptors in the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus. Transcriptome analysis revealed 12 CSP genes and phylogenetic analysis showed that 3 of these are lineage-specifically expanded in the clade of ants. RNA sequencing and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed that, among the ant specific CSP genes, two of them (CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13) were specifically expressed in the chemosensory organs and differentially expressed amongst ant castes. Furthermore, CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13 had a ratio of divergence at non-synonymous and synonymous sites (dN/dS) greater than 1, and they were co-expressed with CjapCSP1, which is known to bind cuticular hydrocarbons. Our results suggested that CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13 were functionally differentiated for ant-specific chemosensory events, and that CjapCSP1, CjapCSP12, and CjapCSP13 work cooperatively in the antennal chemosensilla of worker ants.

  18. Antennal RNA-sequencing analysis reveals evolutionary aspects of chemosensory proteins in the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus.

    PubMed

    Hojo, Masaru K; Ishii, Kenichi; Sakura, Midori; Yamaguchi, Katsushi; Shigenobu, Shuji; Ozaki, Mamiko

    2015-01-01

    Chemical communication is essential for the coordination of complex organisation in ant societies. Recent comparative genomic approaches have revealed that chemosensory genes are diversified in ant lineages, and suggest that this diversification is crucial for social organisation. However, how such diversified genes shape the peripheral chemosensory systems remains unknown. In this study, we annotated and analysed the gene expression profiles of chemosensory proteins (CSPs), which transport lipophilic compounds toward chemosensory receptors in the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus. Transcriptome analysis revealed 12 CSP genes and phylogenetic analysis showed that 3 of these are lineage-specifically expanded in the clade of ants. RNA sequencing and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed that, among the ant specific CSP genes, two of them (CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13) were specifically expressed in the chemosensory organs and differentially expressed amongst ant castes. Furthermore, CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13 had a ratio of divergence at non-synonymous and synonymous sites (dN/dS) greater than 1, and they were co-expressed with CjapCSP1, which is known to bind cuticular hydrocarbons. Our results suggested that CjapCSP12 and CjapCSP13 were functionally differentiated for ant-specific chemosensory events, and that CjapCSP1, CjapCSP12, and CjapCSP13 work cooperatively in the antennal chemosensilla of worker ants. PMID:26310137

  19. Ant association facilitates the evolution of diet breadth in a lycaenid butterfly

    PubMed Central

    Forister, Matthew L.; Gompert, Zachariah; Nice, Chris C.; Forister, Glen W.; Fordyce, James A.

    2011-01-01

    The role of mutualistic interactions in adaptive diversification has not been thoroughly examined. Lycaenid butterflies provide excellent systems for exploring mutualistic interactions, as more than half of this family is known to use ants as a resource in interactions that range from parasitism to mutualism. We investigate the hypothesis that protection from predators offered to caterpillars by ants might facilitate host-range evolution. Specifically, experiments with the butterfly Lycaeides melissa investigated the role of ant association in the use of a novel host, alfalfa, Medicago sativa, which is a sub-optimal host for larval development. Survival on alfalfa is increased by the presence of ants, thus supporting the hypothesis that interaction with ants might be important for host-range evolution. Using a demographic model to explore ecological conditions associated with host-range expansion in L. melissa, we conclude that the presence of ants might be an essential component for populations persisting on the novel, sub-optimal host. PMID:21047856

  20. Are invasive fire ants kept in check by native aerial insectivores?

    PubMed

    Helms, Jackson A; Godfrey, Aaron P; Ames, Tayna; Bridge, Eli S

    2016-05-01

    Aerial predator-prey interactions may impact populations of many terrestrial species. Here, we use altitude loggers to study aerial foraging in a native insectivore, the purple martin (Progne subis), in the southern USA. Purple martins fed primarily on mating queens and males of the invasive red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), and doubled their foraging efficiency by doing so. Across the USA, purple martins likely eat billions of fire ant queens each year, potentially impacting the spread of this species. Alternatively, predation on fire ants may help sustain populations of purple martins and other aerial insectivores. PMID:27194285

  1. Are invasive fire ants kept in check by native aerial insectivores?

    PubMed

    Helms, Jackson A; Godfrey, Aaron P; Ames, Tayna; Bridge, Eli S

    2016-05-01

    Aerial predator-prey interactions may impact populations of many terrestrial species. Here, we use altitude loggers to study aerial foraging in a native insectivore, the purple martin (Progne subis), in the southern USA. Purple martins fed primarily on mating queens and males of the invasive red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), and doubled their foraging efficiency by doing so. Across the USA, purple martins likely eat billions of fire ant queens each year, potentially impacting the spread of this species. Alternatively, predation on fire ants may help sustain populations of purple martins and other aerial insectivores.

  2. Circumvention of prey defense by a predator: ant lion vs. ant.

    PubMed Central

    Eisner, T; Baldwin, I T; Conner, J

    1993-01-01

    The pit-dwelling ant lion Myrmeleon carolinus, although topically sensitive to formic acid, is able to prey on formic acid-spraying ants (Camponotus floridanus). It kills the ants without inducing them to spray, and it sucks out the ant's body contents without puncturing the acid sac. Ordinarily, when Camponotus is attacked it retaliates by simultaneously biting and spraying, but it usually refrains from spraying until it has secured a grip with the mandibles. When Myrmeleon pulls Camponotus into the sand at the bottom of the pit, the ant is seemingly unable to grasp the ant lion and it is killed without being induced to spray. When feeding on the ant, the ant lion sucks up the contents of the nutrient-laden crop. How the ant lion differentiates between crop and acid sac, managing to spare the latter while rupturing the former, remains unknown. Images Fig. 1 Fig. 4 PMID:11607414

  3. Identification of an ant queen pheromone regulating worker sterility.

    PubMed

    Holman, Luke; Jørgensen, Charlotte G; Nielsen, John; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2010-12-22

    The selective forces that shape and maintain eusocial societies are an enduring puzzle in evolutionary biology. Ordinarily sterile workers can usually reproduce given the right conditions, so the factors regulating reproductive division of labour may provide insight into why eusociality has persisted over evolutionary time. Queen-produced pheromones that affect worker reproduction have been implicated in diverse taxa, including ants, termites, wasps and possibly mole rats, but to date have only been definitively identified in the honeybee. Using the black garden ant Lasius niger, we isolate the first sterility-regulating ant queen pheromone. The pheromone is a cuticular hydrocarbon that comprises the majority of the chemical profile of queens and their eggs, and also affects worker behaviour, by reducing aggression towards objects bearing the pheromone. We further show that the pheromone elicits a strong response in worker antennae and that its production by queens is selectively reduced following an immune challenge. These results suggest that the pheromone has a central role in colony organization and support the hypothesis that worker sterility represents altruistic self-restraint in response to an honest quality signal. PMID:20591861

  4. Are Tree Species Diversity and Genotypic Diversity Effects on Insect Herbivores Mediated by Ants?

    PubMed

    Campos-Navarrete, María José; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Munguía-Rosas, Miguel A; Parra-Tabla, Víctor

    2015-01-01

    Plant diversity can influence predators and omnivores and such effects may in turn influence herbivores and plants. However, evidence for these ecological feedbacks is rare. We evaluated if the effects of tree species (SD) and genotypic diversity (GD) on the abundance of different guilds of insect herbivores associated with big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) were contingent upon the protective effects of ants tending extra-floral nectaries of this species. This study was conducted within a larger experiment consisting of mahogany monocultures and species polycultures of four species and -within each of these two plot types- mahogany was represented by either one or four maternal families. We selected 24 plots spanning these treatment combinations, 10 mahogany plants/plot, and within each plot experimentally reduced ant abundance on half of the selected plants, and surveyed ant and herbivore abundance. There were positive effects of SD on generalist leaf-chewers and sap-feeders, but for the latter group this effect depended on the ant reduction treatment: SD positively influenced sap-feeders under ambient ant abundance but had no effect when ant abundance was reduced; at the same time, ants had negative effects on sap feeders in monoculture but no effect in polyculture. In contrast, SD did not influence specialist stem-borers or leaf-miners and this effect was not contingent upon ant reduction. Finally, GD did not influence any of the herbivore guilds studied, and such effects did not depend on the ant treatment. Overall, we show that tree species diversity influenced interactions between a focal plant species (mahogany) and ants, and that such effects in turn mediated plant diversity effects on some (sap-feeders) but not all the herbivores guilds studied. Our results suggest that the observed patterns are dependent on the combined effects of herbivore identity, diet breadth, and the source of plant diversity.

  5. Are Tree Species Diversity and Genotypic Diversity Effects on Insect Herbivores Mediated by Ants?

    PubMed

    Campos-Navarrete, María José; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Munguía-Rosas, Miguel A; Parra-Tabla, Víctor

    2015-01-01

    Plant diversity can influence predators and omnivores and such effects may in turn influence herbivores and plants. However, evidence for these ecological feedbacks is rare. We evaluated if the effects of tree species (SD) and genotypic diversity (GD) on the abundance of different guilds of insect herbivores associated with big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) were contingent upon the protective effects of ants tending extra-floral nectaries of this species. This study was conducted within a larger experiment consisting of mahogany monocultures and species polycultures of four species and -within each of these two plot types- mahogany was represented by either one or four maternal families. We selected 24 plots spanning these treatment combinations, 10 mahogany plants/plot, and within each plot experimentally reduced ant abundance on half of the selected plants, and surveyed ant and herbivore abundance. There were positive effects of SD on generalist leaf-chewers and sap-feeders, but for the latter group this effect depended on the ant reduction treatment: SD positively influenced sap-feeders under ambient ant abundance but had no effect when ant abundance was reduced; at the same time, ants had negative effects on sap feeders in monoculture but no effect in polyculture. In contrast, SD did not influence specialist stem-borers or leaf-miners and this effect was not contingent upon ant reduction. Finally, GD did not influence any of the herbivore guilds studied, and such effects did not depend on the ant treatment. Overall, we show that tree species diversity influenced interactions between a focal plant species (mahogany) and ants, and that such effects in turn mediated plant diversity effects on some (sap-feeders) but not all the herbivores guilds studied. Our results suggest that the observed patterns are dependent on the combined effects of herbivore identity, diet breadth, and the source of plant diversity. PMID:26241962

  6. Are Tree Species Diversity and Genotypic Diversity Effects on Insect Herbivores Mediated by Ants?

    PubMed Central

    Campos-Navarrete, María José; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Munguía-Rosas, Miguel A.; Parra-Tabla, Víctor

    2015-01-01

    Plant diversity can influence predators and omnivores and such effects may in turn influence herbivores and plants. However, evidence for these ecological feedbacks is rare. We evaluated if the effects of tree species (SD) and genotypic diversity (GD) on the abundance of different guilds of insect herbivores associated with big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) were contingent upon the protective effects of ants tending extra-floral nectaries of this species. This study was conducted within a larger experiment consisting of mahogany monocultures and species polycultures of four species and –within each of these two plot types– mahogany was represented by either one or four maternal families. We selected 24 plots spanning these treatment combinations, 10 mahogany plants/plot, and within each plot experimentally reduced ant abundance on half of the selected plants, and surveyed ant and herbivore abundance. There were positive effects of SD on generalist leaf-chewers and sap-feeders, but for the latter group this effect depended on the ant reduction treatment: SD positively influenced sap-feeders under ambient ant abundance but had no effect when ant abundance was reduced; at the same time, ants had negative effects on sap feeders in monoculture but no effect in polyculture. In contrast, SD did not influence specialist stem-borers or leaf-miners and this effect was not contingent upon ant reduction. Finally, GD did not influence any of the herbivore guilds studied, and such effects did not depend on the ant treatment. Overall, we show that tree species diversity influenced interactions between a focal plant species (mahogany) and ants, and that such effects in turn mediated plant diversity effects on some (sap-feeders) but not all the herbivores guilds studied. Our results suggest that the observed patterns are dependent on the combined effects of herbivore identity, diet breadth, and the source of plant diversity. PMID:26241962

  7. Behavioral mechanisms and morphological symptoms of zombie ants dying from fungal infection

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Parasites that manipulate host behavior can provide prominent examples of extended phenotypes: parasite genomes controlling host behavior. Here we focus on one of the most dramatic examples of behavioral manipulation, the death grip of ants infected by Ophiocordyceps fungi. We studied the interaction between O. unilateralis s.l. and its host ant Camponotus leonardi in a Thai rainforest, where infected ants descend from their canopy nests down to understory vegetation to bite into abaxial leaf veins before dying. Host mortality is concentrated in patches (graveyards) where ants die on sapling leaves ca. 25 cm above the soil surface where conditions for parasite development are optimal. Here we address whether the sequence of ant behaviors leading to the final death grip can also be interpreted as parasite adaptations and describe some of the morphological changes inside the heads of infected workers that mediate the expression of the death grip phenotype. Results We found that infected ants behave as zombies and display predictable stereotypical behaviors of random rather than directional walking, and of repeated convulsions that make them fall down and thus precludes returning to the canopy. Transitions from erratic wandering to death grips on a leaf vein were abrupt and synchronized around solar noon. We show that the mandibles of ants penetrate deeply into vein tissue and that this is accompanied by extensive atrophy of the mandibular muscles. This lock-jaw means the ant will remain attached to the leaf after death. We further present histological data to show that a high density of single celled stages of the parasite within the head capsule of dying ants are likely to be responsible for this muscular atrophy. Conclusions Extended phenotypes in ants induced by fungal infections are a complex example of behavioral manipulation requiring coordinated changes of host behavior and morphology. Future work should address the genetic basis of such extended

  8. Ecosystem engineering of harvester ants: effects on vegetation in a sagebrush-steppe ecosystem

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gosselin, Elyce N; Holbrook, Joseph D.; Huggler, Katey; Brown, Emily; Vierling, Kerri T.; Arkle, Robert; Pilliod, David

    2016-01-01

    Harvester ants are influential in many ecosystems because they distribute and consume seeds, remove vegetation, and redistribute soil particles and nutrients. Understanding the interaction between harvester ants and plant communities is important for management and restoration efforts, particularly in systems altered by fire and invasive species such as the sagebrush-steppe. Our objective was to evaluate how vegetation cover changed as a function of distance from Owyhee harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex salinus) nests within a sagebrush-steppe ecosystem. We sampled 105 harvester ant nests within southern Idaho, USA, that occurred in different habitats: annual grassland, perennial grassland, and native shrubland. The influence of Owyhee harvester ants on vegetation was larger at the edge of ant nests, but the relationship was inconsistent among plant species. Percent cover was positively associated with distance from harvester ant nests for plant species that were considered undesirable food sources and were densely distributed. However, percent cover was negatively associated with distance-from-nests for patchily distributed and desirable plant species. For some plant species, there was no change in cover associated with distance-from-nests. Total vegetation cover was associated with distance-from-nests in the shrubland habitat but not in the 2 grasslands. The dominant plant species in the shrubland habitat was a densely distributed shrub (winterfat, Krascheninnikovia lanata) that was defoliated by harvester ants. Our results suggest that Owyhee harvester ants increase spatial heterogeneity in plant communities through plant clearing, but the direction and magnitude of effect will likely be contingent on the dominant vegetation groups. This information may inform future management and plant restoration efforts in sagebrush-steppe by directly considering the islands of influence associated with harvester ant engineering.

  9. Communicating Science to Society

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Illingworth, Samuel; Muller, Jennifer; Leather, Kimberley; Morgan, William; O'Meara, Simon; Topping, David; Booth, Alastair; Llyod, Gary; Young, Dominique; Bannan, Thomas; Simpson, Emma; Percival, Carl; Allen, Grant; Clark, Elaine; Muller, Catherine; Graves, Rosemarie

    2014-05-01

    "Nothing in science has any value to society if it is not communicated." So goes the 1952 quote from Anne Roe, the noted twentieth century American psychologist and writer. She went on to say that "scientists are beginning to learn their social obligations", and now over 60 years later there is certainly evidence to support her assertions. As scientists, by communicating our research to the general public we not only better inform the tax payer where their money is being spent, but are also able to help put into context the topical environmental challenges and issues that society faces, as well as inspiring a whole new generation of future scientists. This process of communication is very much a two-way street; by presenting our work to people outside of our usual spheres of contemporaries, we expose ourselves to alternative thoughts and insights that can inspire us, as scientists, to take another look at our research from angles that we had never before considered. This work presents the results and experiences from a number of public engagement and outreach activities across the UK, in which geoscientists engaged and interacted with members of the general public. These include the design and implementation of Raspberry Pi based outreach activities for several hundred high school students; the process of running a successful podcast (http://thebarometer.podbean.com); hosting and participating in science events for thousands of members of the general public (e.g. http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com and http://sse.royalsociety.org/2013); and creating a citizen science activity that involved primary school children from across the UK. In communicating their research it is imperative that scientists interact with their audience in an effective and engaging manner, whether in an international conference, a classroom, or indeed down the pub. This work also presents a discussion of how these skills can be developed at an early stage in the careers of a research

  10. Electronic Communities in an Information Society: Paradise, Mirage, or Malaise?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Komito, Lee

    2001-01-01

    Discusses communities in the information society and examines virtual communities and the relation between technology and social life. Topics include interaction; idealized community; proximate communities; normative community; virtual communities and fragmented society; and social change versus technological change. (LRW)

  11. Drug-drug interactions in older patients with cancer: a report from the 15th Conference of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology, Prague, Czech Republic, November 2015.

    PubMed

    Stepney, Rob; Lichtman, Stuart M; Danesi, Romano

    2016-01-01

    Drugs taken for cancer can interact with each other, with agents taken as part of supportive care, with drugs taken for comorbid conditions (which are particularly common in the elderly patients), and with herbal supplements and complementary medicines. We tend to focus on the narrow therapeutic window of cytotoxics, but the metabolism of tyrosine kinase inhibitors by the cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme (CYP3A4) makes some TKIs particularly prone to interference with or from other agents sharing this pathway. There is also potential for adverse pharmacokinetic interactions with new hormonal agents used in advanced prostate cancer.

  12. Drug-drug interactions in older patients with cancer: a report from the 15th Conference of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology, Prague, Czech Republic, November 2015

    PubMed Central

    Stepney, Rob; Lichtman, Stuart M; Danesi, Romano

    2016-01-01

    Drugs taken for cancer can interact with each other, with agents taken as part of supportive care, with drugs taken for comorbid conditions (which are particularly common in the elderly patients), and with herbal supplements and complementary medicines. We tend to focus on the narrow therapeutic window of cytotoxics, but the metabolism of tyrosine kinase inhibitors by the cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme (CYP3A4) makes some TKIs particularly prone to interference with or from other agents sharing this pathway. There is also potential for adverse pharmacokinetic interactions with new hormonal agents used in advanced prostate cancer. PMID:26823680

  13. Revolutionizing Remote Exploration with ANTS

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Clark, P. E.; Rilee, M. L.; Curtis, S.; Truszkowski, W.

    2002-05-01

    We are developing the Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm (ANTS) architecture based on an insect colony analogue for the cost-effective, efficient, systematic survey of remote or inaccessible areas with multiple object targets, including planetary surface, marine, airborne, and space environments. The mission context is the exploration in the 2020s of the most compelling remaining targets in the solar system: main belt asteroids. Main belt asteroids harbor important clues to Solar System origins and evolution which are central to NASA's goals in Space Science. Asteroids are smaller than planets, but their number is far greater, and their combined surface area likely dwarfs the Earth's. An asteroid survey will dramatically increase our understanding of the local resources available for the Human Exploration and Development of Space. During the mission composition, shape, gravity, and orbit parameters could be returned to Earth for perhaps several thousand asteroids. A survey of this area will rival the great explorations that encircled this globe, opened up the New World, and laid the groundwork for the progress and challenges of the last centuries. The ANTS architecture for a main belt survey consists of a swarm of as many as a thousand or more highly specialized pico-spacecraft that form teams to survey as many as one hundred asteroids a month. Multi-level autonomy is critical for ANTS and the objective of the proposed study is to work through the implications and constraints this entails. ANTS couples biologically inspired autonomic control for basic functions to higher level artificial intelligence that together enable individual spacecraft to operate as specialized, cooperative, social agents. This revolutionary approach postulates highly advanced, but familiar, components integrated and operated in a way that uniquely transcends any evolutionary extrapolation of existing trends and enables thousand-spacecraft missions.

  14. Society of Thoracic Surgeons

    MedlinePlus

    ... With Its Intense Demands New Website from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Puts the Power of Information ... Hotel Discount for STS Members Copyright © 2016 The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. All rights reserved. Expanded Proprietary ...

  15. Society of Interventional Radiology

    MedlinePlus

    ... comments to CMS on two MACRA coding issues; society is engaged with CMS as they develop codes ... radiology case studies Developed by ACR Copyright © 2016 Society of Interventional Radiology. All rights reserved. 3975 Fair ...

  16. A 10-year Retrospective of NASA's Contribution to NEESPI Science: What we Have Learned on Climate-Ecosystem-Society Interactions in Northern Eurasia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gutman, G.; Groisman, P. Y.

    2015-12-01

    The Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI) has produced over 1500 scientific papers based on 170+ projects with international teams from over 200 institutions in 30 countries. This overview will provide a summary of the achievements in the NASA component of this large international initiative during the last 10 years. It will cover various NEESPI sectors, including the Arctic, the boreal systems of Siberia and Far East, the dry lands of Central Asia and ecosystems of Eastern Europe. The emphasis will be made on what we have learned from the NEESPI studies supported by the NASA Land-Cover/Land- Use Change Program. It will include examples of forest and agricultural changes, implications to carbon and hydrologic cycles, changes in environmental pollution, urban changes and impacts on society. The presentation will illustrate land-use changes during the last couple of decades and describe impacts of land-use change in the Arctic, where land use practiced by indigenous people is giving way to intensive exploitation of the land for commercial and industrial uses. Fields abandonment and more recent returning agricultural practices in mid-latitudes will also be discussed. The presentation will be based on the results from the NEESPI Synthesis projects supported by the NASA LCLUC program and the material described in the books published by international NEESPI teams.

  17. Fire ant-detecting canines: a complementary method in detecting red imported fire ants.

    PubMed

    Lin, Hui-Min; Chi, Wei-Lien; Lin, Chung-Chi; Tseng, Yu-Ching; Chen, Wang-Ting; Kung, Yu-Ling; Lien, Yi-Yang; Chen, Yang-Yuan

    2011-02-01

    In this investigation, detection dogs are trained and used in identifying red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, and their nests. The methodology could assist in reducing the frequency and scope of chemical treatments for red imported fire ant management and thus reduce labor costs and chemical use as well as improve control and quarantine efficiency. Three dogs previously trained for customs quarantine were retrained to detect the scents of red imported fire ants. After passing tests involving different numbers of live red imported fire ants and three other ant species--Crematogaster rogenhoferi Mayr, Paratrechina longicornis Latreille, and Pheidole megacephala F.--placed in containers, ajoint field survey for red imported fire ant nests by detection dogs and bait traps was conducted to demonstrate their use as a supplement to conventional detection methods. The most significant findings in this report are (1) with 10 or more red imported fire ants in scent containers, the dogs had >98% chance in tracing the red imported fire ant. Upon the introduction of other ant species, the dogs still achieved on average, a 93% correct red imported fire ant indication rate. Moreover, the dogs demonstrated great competence in pinpointing emerging and smaller red imported fire ant nests in red imported fire ant-infested areas that had been previously confirmed by bait trap stations. (2) Along with the bait trap method, we also discovered that approximately 90% of red imported fire ants foraged within a distance of 14 m away from their nests. The results prove detection dogs to be most effective for red imported fire ant control in areas that have been previously treated with pesticides and therefore containing a low density of remaining red imported fire ant nests. Furthermore, as a complement to other red imported fire ant monitoring methods, this strategy will significantly increase the efficacy of red imported fire ant control in cases of individual mount treatment.

  18. Ants are less attracted to the extrafloral nectar of plants with symbiotic, nitrogen-fixing rhizobia.

    PubMed

    Godschalx, Adrienne L; Schädler, Martin; Trisel, Julie A; Balkan, Mehmet A; Ballhorn, Daniel J

    2015-02-01

    Plants simultaneously maintain mutualistic relationships with different partners that are connected through the same host, but do not interact directly. One or more participating mutualists may alter their host's phenotype, resulting in a shift in the host's ecological interactions with all other mutualists involved. Understanding the functional interplay of mutualists associated with the same host remains an important challenge in biology. Here, we show belowground nitrogen-fixing rhizobia on lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) alter their host plant's defensive mutualism with aboveground ants. We induced extrafloral nectar (EFN), an indirect defense acting through ant attraction. We also measured various nutritive and defensive plant traits, biomass, and counted ants on rhizobial and rhizobia-free plants. Rhizobia increased plant protein as well as cyanogenesis, a direct chemical defense against herbivores, but decreased EFN. Ants were significantly more attracted to rhizobia-free plants, and our structural equation model shows a strong link between rhizobia and reduced EFN as well as between EFN and ants: the sole path to ant recruitment. The rhizobia-mediated effects on simultaneously expressed defensive plant traits indicate rhizobia can have significant bottom-up effects on higher trophic levels. Our results show belowground symbionts play a critical and underestimated role in determining aboveground mutualistic interactions.

  19. Ants are less attracted to the extrafloral nectar of plants with symbiotic, nitrogen-fixing rhizobia.

    PubMed

    Godschalx, Adrienne L; Schädler, Martin; Trisel, Julie A; Balkan, Mehmet A; Ballhorn, Daniel J

    2015-02-01

    Plants simultaneously maintain mutualistic relationships with different partners that are connected through the same host, but do not interact directly. One or more participating mutualists may alter their host's phenotype, resulting in a shift in the host's ecological interactions with all other mutualists involved. Understanding the functional interplay of mutualists associated with the same host remains an important challenge in biology. Here, we show belowground nitrogen-fixing rhizobia on lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) alter their host plant's defensive mutualism with aboveground ants. We induced extrafloral nectar (EFN), an indirect defense acting through ant attraction. We also measured various nutritive and defensive plant traits, biomass, and counted ants on rhizobial and rhizobia-free plants. Rhizobia increased plant protein as well as cyanogenesis, a direct chemical defense against herbivores, but decreased EFN. Ants were significantly more attracted to rhizobia-free plants, and our structural equation model shows a strong link between rhizobia and reduced EFN as well as between EFN and ants: the sole path to ant recruitment. The rhizobia-mediated effects on simultaneously expressed defensive plant traits indicate rhizobia can have significant bottom-up effects on higher trophic levels. Our results show belowground symbionts play a critical and underestimated role in determining aboveground mutualistic interactions. PMID:26240856

  20. Economic investment by ant colonies in searches for better homes.

    PubMed

    Doran, Carolina; Pearce, Tom; Connor, Aaron; Schlegel, Thomas; Franklin, Elizabeth; Sendova-Franks, Ana B; Franks, Nigel R

    2013-10-23

    Organisms should invest more in gathering information when the pay-off from finding a profitable resource is likely to be greater. Here, we ask whether animal societies put more effort in scouting for a new nest when their current one is of low quality. We measured the scouting behaviour of Temnothorax albipennis ant colonies when they inhabit nest-sites with different combinations of desirable attributes. We show that the average probability of an ant scouting decreases significantly with an increase in the quality of the nest in which the colony currently resides. This means that the greater the potential gain from finding a new nest, the more effort a colony puts into gathering information regarding new nest-sites. Our results show, for the first time to our knowledge, the ability of animal societies to respond collectively to the quality of a resource they currently have at their disposal (e.g. current nest-site) and regulate appropriately their information gathering efforts for finding an alternative (e.g. a potentially better nest-site).

  1. Professional Scientific Societies, 1968.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Frye, Robert E.; And Others

    Reported are the findings of a study of scientific societies in the United States. Some 449 professional organizations were considered of which 284 conformed to the validation criteria for inclusion. Data gathering was most successful on membership, current dues, society history, and purpose and less successful on topics related to society income…

  2. Blind and myopic ants in heterogeneous networks

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hwang, S.; Lee, D.-S.; Kahng, B.

    2014-11-01

    The diffusion processes on complex networks may be described by different Laplacian matrices due to heterogeneous connectivity. Here we investigate the random walks of blind ants and myopic ants on heterogeneous networks: While a myopic ant hops to a neighbor node every step, a blind ant may stay or hop with probabilities that depend on node connectivity. By analyzing the trajectories of blind ants, we show that the asymptotic behaviors of both random walks are related by rescaling time and probability with node connectivity. Using this result, we show how the small eigenvalues of the Laplacian matrices generating the two random walks are related. As an application, we show how the return-to-origin probability of a myopic ant can be used to compute the scaling behaviors of the Edwards-Wilkinson model, a representative model of load balancing on networks.

  3. Backtracking behaviour in lost ants: an additional strategy in their navigational toolkit

    PubMed Central

    Wystrach, Antoine; Schwarz, Sebastian; Baniel, Alice; Cheng, Ken

    2013-01-01

    Ants use multiple sources of information to navigate, but do not integrate all this information into a unified representation of the world. Rather, the available information appears to serve three distinct main navigational systems: path integration, systematic search and the use of learnt information—mainly via vision. Here, we report on an additional behaviour that suggests a supplemental system in the ant's navigational toolkit: ‘backtracking’. Homing ants, having almost reached their nest but, suddenly displaced to unfamiliar areas, did not show the characteristic undirected headings of systematic searches. Instead, these ants backtracked in the compass direction opposite to the path that they had just travelled. The ecological function of this behaviour is clear as we show it increases the chances of returning to familiar terrain. Importantly, the mechanistic implications of this behaviour stress an extra level of cognitive complexity in ant navigation. Our results imply: (i) the presence of a type of ‘memory of the current trip’ allowing lost ants to take into account the familiar view recently experienced, and (ii) direct sharing of information across different navigational systems. We propose a revised architecture of the ant's navigational toolkit illustrating how the different systems may interact to produce adaptive behaviours. PMID:23966644

  4. Backtracking behaviour in lost ants: an additional strategy in their navigational toolkit.

    PubMed

    Wystrach, Antoine; Schwarz, Sebastian; Baniel, Alice; Cheng, Ken

    2013-10-22

    Ants use multiple sources of information to navigate, but do not integrate all this information into a unified representation of the world. Rather, the available information appears to serve three distinct main navigational systems: path integration, systematic search and the use of learnt information--mainly via vision. Here, we report on an additional behaviour that suggests a supplemental system in the ant's navigational toolkit: 'backtracking'. Homing ants, having almost reached their nest but, suddenly displaced to unfamiliar areas, did not show the characteristic undirected headings of systematic searches. Instead, these ants backtracked in the compass direction opposite to the path that they had just travelled. The ecological function of this behaviour is clear as we show it increases the chances of returning to familiar terrain. Importantly, the mechanistic implications of this behaviour stress an extra level of cognitive complexity in ant navigation. Our results imply: (i) the presence of a type of 'memory of the current trip' allowing lost ants to take into account the familiar view recently experienced, and (ii) direct sharing of information across different navigational systems. We propose a revised architecture of the ant's navigational toolkit illustrating how the different systems may interact to produce adaptive behaviours.

  5. Studying the Complex Communities of Ants and Their Symbionts Using Ecological Network Analysis.

    PubMed

    Ivens, Aniek B F; von Beeren, Christoph; Blüthgen, Nico; Kronauer, Daniel J C

    2016-01-01

    Ant colonies provide well-protected and resource-rich environments for a plethora of symbionts. Historically, most studies of ants and their symbionts have had a narrow taxonomic scope, often focusing on a single ant or symbiont species. Here we discuss the prospects of studying these assemblies in a community ecology context using the framework of ecological network analysis. We introduce three basic network metrics that we consider particularly relevant for improving our knowledge of ant-symbiont communities: interaction specificity, network modularity, and phylogenetic signal. We then discuss army ant symbionts as examples of large and primarily parasitic communities, and symbiotic sternorrhynchans as examples of generally smaller and primarily mutualistic communities in the context of these network analyses. We argue that this approach will provide new and complementary insights into the evolutionary and ecological dynamics between ants and their many associates, and will facilitate comparisons across different ant-symbiont assemblages as well as across different types of ecological networks. PMID:26982442

  6. Geographic variations in seed dispersal by ants: are plant and seed traits decisive?

    PubMed

    Boulay, R; Coll-Toledano, J; Manzaneda, A J; Cerdá, X

    2007-03-01

    The effect of local ant species on the dispersal success of a myrmecochorous plant, Helleborus foetidus, was analyzed in two populations of the Iberian Peninsula (Caurel and Cazorla, respectively). The contribution of the various local ant species to dispersal was very unequal. While 5 and 19 ant taxa visited the plants of Caurel and Cazorla, respectively, most removal activity (67 and 80%) was performed by two species only (Formica lugubris and Camponotus cruentatus, respectively). Visits by dispersers were also unequally distributed between neighboring plants. While some plants were always visited during the period of seed release, others were never visited. A regression model indicated that this pattern might be explained by two plant traits: ants preferred to visit plants that released more seeds and whose elaiosomes were richer in oleic acid. Although it has long been known that this compound triggers removal by ants, it is the first demonstration that quantitative variations in elaiosome traits contribute to variation in dispersal success. Finally, other variables being equal, morphological traits (seed size, elaiosome size, and elaiosome/seed size ratio) did not affect ant behavior. Although myrmecochory has long been considered a diffuse interaction, our results support the idea that, at local scale, a limited number of ant species may be decisive to its evolution. PMID:17119907

  7. Geographic variations in seed dispersal by ants: are plant and seed traits decisive?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Boulay, R.; Coll-Toledano, J.; Manzaneda, A. J.; Cerdá, X.

    2007-03-01

    The effect of local ant species on the dispersal success of a myrmecochorous plant, Helleborus foetidus, was analyzed in two populations of the Iberian Peninsula (Caurel and Cazorla, respectively). The contribution of the various local ant species to dispersal was very unequal. While 5 and 19 ant taxa visited the plants of Caurel and Cazorla, respectively, most removal activity (67 and 80%) was performed by two species only (Formica lugubris and Camponotus cruentatus, respectively). Visits by dispersers were also unequally distributed between neighboring plants. While some plants were always visited during the period of seed release, others were never visited. A regression model indicated that this pattern might be explained by two plant traits: ants preferred to visit plants that released more seeds and whose elaiosomes were richer in oleic acid. Although it has long been known that this compound triggers removal by ants, it is the first demonstration that quantitative variations in elaiosome traits contribute to variation in dispersal success. Finally, other variables being equal, morphological traits (seed size, elaiosome size, and elaiosome/seed size ratio) did not affect ant behavior. Although myrmecochory has long been considered a diffuse interaction, our results support the idea that, at local scale, a limited number of ant species may be decisive to its evolution.

  8. Climatic warming destabilizes forest ant communities

    PubMed Central

    Diamond, Sarah E.; Nichols, Lauren M.; Pelini, Shannon L.; Penick, Clint A.; Barber, Grace W.; Cahan, Sara Helms; Dunn, Robert R.; Ellison, Aaron M.; Sanders, Nathan J.; Gotelli, Nicholas J.

    2016-01-01

    How will ecological communities change in response to climate warming? Direct effects of temperature and indirect cascading effects of species interactions are already altering the structure of local communities, but the dynamics of community change are still poorly understood. We explore the cumulative effects of warming on the dynamics and turnover of forest ant communities that were warmed as part of a 5-year climate manipulation experiment at two sites in eastern North America. At the community level, warming consistently increased occupancy of nests and decreased extinction and nest abandonment. This consistency was largely driven by strong responses of a subset of thermophilic species at each site. As colonies of thermophilic species persisted in nests for longer periods of time under warmer temperatures, turnover was diminished, and species interactions were likely altered. We found that dynamical (Lyapunov) community stability decreased with warming both within and between sites. These results refute null expectations of simple temperature-driven increases in the activity and movement of thermophilic ectotherms. The reduction in stability under warming contrasts with the findings of previous studies that suggest resilience of species interactions to experimental and natural warming. In the face of warmer, no-analog climates, communities of the future may become increasingly fragile and unstable.

  9. Usefulness of fire ant genetics in insecticide efficacy trials

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Mature fire ant colonies contain an average of 80,000 worker ants. For this study, eight fire ant workers were randomly sampled from each colony. DNA fingerprints for each individual ant were generated using 21 simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers that were developed from fire ant DNA by other lab...

  10. Symbiont recruitment versus ant-symbiont co-evolution in the attine ant-microbe symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Mueller, Ulrich G

    2012-06-01

    The symbiosis between fungus-farming ants (Attini, Formicidae), their cultivated fungi, garden-infecting Escovopsis pathogens, and Pseudonocardia bacteria on the ant integument has been popularized as an example of ant-Escovopsis-Pseudonocardia co-evolution. Recent research could not verify earlier conclusions regarding antibiotic-secreting, integumental Pseudonocardia that co-evolve to specifically suppress Escovopsis disease in an ancient co-evolutionary arms-race. Rather than long-term association with a single, co-evolving Pseudonocardia strain, attine ants accumulate complex, dynamic biofilms on their integument and in their gardens. Emerging views are that the integumental biofilms protect the ants primarily against ant diseases, whereas garden biofilms protect primarily against garden diseases; attine ants selectively recruit ('screen in') microbes into their biofilms; and the biofilms of ants and gardens serve diverse functions beyond disease-suppression.

  11. Ant Abundance along a Productivity Gradient: Addressing Two Conflicting Hypotheses.

    PubMed

    Segev, Udi; Kigel, Jaime; Lubin, Yael; Tielbörger, Katja

    2015-01-01

    The number of individuals within a population or community and their body size can be associated with changes in resource supply. While these relationships may provide a key to better understand the role of abiotic vs. biotic constraints in animal communities, little is known about the way size and abundance of organisms change along resource gradients. Here, we studied this interplay in ants, addressing two hypotheses with opposite predictions regarding variation in population densities along resource gradients- the 'productivity hypothesis' and the 'productivity-based thinning hypothesis'. The hypotheses were tested in two functional groups of ground-dwelling ants that are directly primary consumers feeding on seeds: specialized seed-eaters and generalist species. We examined variations in colony density and foraging activity (a size measurement of the forager caste) in six ant assemblages along a steep productivity gradient in a semi-arid region, where precipitation and plant biomass vary 6-fold over a distance of 250km. An increase in the density or foraging activity of ant colonies along productivity gradients is also likely to affect competitive interactions among colonies, and consequently clinal changes in competition intensity were also examined. Ant foraging activity increased with productivity for both functional groups. However, colony density revealed opposing patterns: it increased with productivity for the specialized seed-eaters, but decreased for the generalist species. Competition intensity, evaluated by spatial partitioning of species at food baits and distribution of colonies, was uncorrelated with productivity in the specialized seed-eaters, but decreased with increasing productivity in the generalists. Our results provide support for two contrasting hypotheses regarding the effect of resource availability on the abundance of colonial organisms- the 'productivity hypothesis' for specialized seed-eaters and the 'productivity-based thinning

  12. Ant Abundance along a Productivity Gradient: Addressing Two Conflicting Hypotheses

    PubMed Central

    Segev, Udi; Kigel, Jaime; Lubin, Yael; Tielbörger, Katja

    2015-01-01

    The number of individuals within a population or community and their body size can be associated with changes in resource supply. While these relationships may provide a key to better understand the role of abiotic vs. biotic constraints in animal communities, little is known about the way size and abundance of organisms change along resource gradients. Here, we studied this interplay in ants, addressing two hypotheses with opposite predictions regarding variation in population densities along resource gradients- the ‘productivity hypothesis’ and the ‘productivity-based thinning hypothesis’. The hypotheses were tested in two functional groups of ground-dwelling ants that are directly primary consumers feeding on seeds: specialized seed-eaters and generalist species. We examined variations in colony density and foraging activity (a size measurement of the forager caste) in six ant assemblages along a steep productivity gradient in a semi-arid region, where precipitation and plant biomass vary 6-fold over a distance of 250km. An increase in the density or foraging activity of ant colonies along productivity gradients is also likely to affect competitive interactions among colonies, and consequently clinal changes in competition intensity were also examined. Ant foraging activity increased with productivity for both functional groups. However, colony density revealed opposing patterns: it increased with productivity for the specialized seed-eaters, but decreased for the generalist species. Competition intensity, evaluated by spatial partitioning of species at food baits and distribution of colonies, was uncorrelated with productivity in the specialized seed-eaters, but decreased with increasing productivity in the generalists. Our results provide support for two contrasting hypotheses regarding the effect of resource availability on the abundance of colonial organisms- the ‘productivity hypothesis’ for specialized seed-eaters and the

  13. A review of myrmecophily in ant nest beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Paussinae): linking early observations with recent findings

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Geiselhardt, Stefanie F.; Peschke, Klaus; Nagel, Peter

    2007-11-01

    Myrmecophily provides various examples of how social structures can be overcome to exploit vast and well-protected resources. Ant nest beetles (Paussinae) are particularly well suited for ecological and evolutionary considerations in the context of association with ants because life habits within the subfamily range from free-living and predatory in basal taxa to obligatory myrmecophily in derived Paussini. Adult Paussini are accepted in the ant society, although parasitising the colony by preying on ant brood. Host species mainly belong to the ant families Myrmicinae and Formicinae, but at least several paussine genera are not host-specific. Morphological adaptations, such as special glands and associated tufts of hair (trichomes), characterise Paussini as typical myrmecophiles and lead to two different strategical types of body shape: while certain Paussini rely on the protective type with less exposed extremities, other genera access ant colonies using glandular secretions and trichomes (symphile type). We compare these adaptations with other taxonomic groups of insects by joining contemporary research and early sources and discuss the possibility of an attracting or appeasing effect of the secretion. Species that are ignored by their host ants might use chemical mimicry instead. Furthermore, vibrational signals may contribute to ant-beetle communication, and chemical signals have proven to play a role in host finding. The powerful defense chemistry of paussines as “bombardier beetles” is not used in contact with host ants. We attempt to trace the evolution of myrmecophily in paussines by reviewing important aspects of the association between paussine beetles and ants, i.e. morphological and potential chemical adaptations, life cycle, host specificity, alimentation, parasitism and sound production.

  14. A review of myrmecophily in ant nest beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Paussinae): linking early observations with recent findings.

    PubMed

    Geiselhardt, Stefanie F; Peschke, Klaus; Nagel, Peter

    2007-11-01

    Myrmecophily provides various examples of how social structures can be overcome to exploit vast and well-protected resources. Ant nest beetles (Paussinae) are particularly well suited for ecological and evolutionary considerations in the context of association with ants because life habits within the subfamily range from free-living and predatory in basal taxa to obligatory myrmecophily in derived Paussini. Adult Paussini are accepted in the ant society, although parasitising the colony by preying on ant brood. Host species mainly belong to the ant families Myrmicinae and Formicinae, but at least several paussine genera are not host-specific. Morphological adaptations, such as special glands and associated tufts of hair (trichomes), characterise Paussini as typical myrmecophiles and lead to two different strategical types of body shape: while certain Paussini rely on the protective type with less exposed extremities, other genera access ant colonies using glandular secretions and trichomes (symphile type). We compare these adaptations with other taxonomic groups of insects by joining contemporary research and early sources and discuss the possibility of an attracting or appeasing effect of the secretion. Species that are ignored by their host ants might use chemical mimicry instead. Furthermore, vibrational signals may contribute to ant-beetle communication, and chemical signals have proven to play a role in host finding. The powerful defense chemistry of paussines as "bombardier beetles" is not used in contact with host ants. We attempt to trace the evolution of myrmecophily in paussines by reviewing important aspects of the association between paussine beetles and ants, i.e. morphological and potential chemical adaptations, life cycle, host specificity, alimentation, parasitism and sound production. PMID:17563864

  15. Enough is enough: the effects of symbiotic ant abundance on herbivory, growth, and reproduction in an African acacia.

    PubMed

    Palmer, Todd M; Brody, Alison K

    2013-03-01

    Understanding how cooperative interactions evolve and persist remains a central challenge in biology. Many mutualisms are thought to be maintained by "partner fidelity feedback," in which each partner bases their investment on the benefits they receive. Yet, we know little about how benefits change as mutualists vary their investment, which is critical to understanding the balance between mutualism and antagonism in any given partnership. Using an obligate ant-plant mutualism, we manipulated the density of symbiotic acacia ants (Crematogaster mimosae) and examined how the costs and benefits to Acacia drepanolobium trees scaled with ant abundance. Benefits of ants to plants saturated with increasing ant abundance for protection from branch browsing by elephants and attack by branch galling midges, while varying linearly for protection from cerambycid beetles. In addition, the risk of catastrophic whole-tree herbivory by elephants was highest for trees with very low ant abundance. However, there was no relationship between ant abundance and herbivory by leaf-feeding invertebrates, nor by vertebrate browsers such as giraffe, steinbuck, and Grant's gazelle. Ant abundance did not significantly influence rates of branch growth on acacias, but there was a significant negative relationship between ant abundance and the number of fruits produced by host plants, suggesting that maintaining high-density ant colonies is costly. Because benefits to plants largely saturated with increasing colony size, while costs to plant reproduction increased, we suggest that ant colonies may achieve abundances that are higher than optimal for host plants. Our results highlight the conflicts of interest inherent in many mutualisms, and demonstrate the value of examining the shape of curves relating costs and benefits within these globally important interactions.

  16. Enough is enough: the effects of symbiotic ant abundance on herbivory, growth, and reproduction in an African acacia.

    PubMed

    Palmer, Todd M; Brody, Alison K

    2013-03-01

    Understanding how cooperative interactions evolve and persist remains a central challenge in biology. Many mutualisms are thought to be maintained by "partner fidelity feedback," in which each partner bases their investment on the benefits they receive. Yet, we know little about how benefits change as mutualists vary their investment, which is critical to understanding the balance between mutualism and antagonism in any given partnership. Using an obligate ant-plant mutualism, we manipulated the density of symbiotic acacia ants (Crematogaster mimosae) and examined how the costs and benefits to Acacia drepanolobium trees scaled with ant abundance. Benefits of ants to plants saturated with increasing ant abundance for protection from branch browsing by elephants and attack by branch galling midges, while varying linearly for protection from cerambycid beetles. In addition, the risk of catastrophic whole-tree herbivory by elephants was highest for trees with very low ant abundance. However, there was no relationship between ant abundance and herbivory by leaf-feeding invertebrates, nor by vertebrate browsers such as giraffe, steinbuck, and Grant's gazelle. Ant abundance did not significantly influence rates of branch growth on acacias, but there was a significant negative relationship between ant abundance and the number of fruits produced by host plants, suggesting that maintaining high-density ant colonies is costly. Because benefits to plants largely saturated with increasing colony size, while costs to plant reproduction increased, we suggest that ant colonies may achieve abundances that are higher than optimal for host plants. Our results highlight the conflicts of interest inherent in many mutualisms, and demonstrate the value of examining the shape of curves relating costs and benefits within these globally important interactions. PMID:23687894

  17. Climbing, falling, and jamming during ant locomotion in confined environments

    PubMed Central

    Gravish, Nick; Monaenkova, Daria; Goodisman, Michael A. D.; Goldman, Daniel I.

    2013-01-01

    Locomotion emerges from effective interactions of an individual with its environment. Principles of biological terrestrial locomotion have been discovered on unconfined vertical and horizontal substrates. However, a diversity of organisms construct, inhabit, and move within confined spaces. Such animals are faced with locomotor challenges including limited limb range of motion, crowding, and visual sensory deprivation. Little is known about how these organisms accomplish their locomotor tasks, and such environments challenge human-made devices. To gain insight into how animals move within confined spaces, we study the locomotion of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta, which constructs subterranean tunnel networks (nests). Laboratory experiments reveal that ants construct tunnels with diameter, D, comparable to body length, L = 3.5 ± 0.5 mm. Ants can move rapidly (> 9 bodylengths per s) within these environments; their tunnels allow for effective limb, body, and antennae interaction with walls, which facilitate rapid slip-recovery during ascending and descending climbs. To examine the limits of slip-recovery in artificial tunnels, we perform perturbations consisting of rapid downward accelerations of the tunnels, which induce falls. Below a critical tunnel diameter, Ds = 1.31 ± 0.02 L, falls are always arrested through rapid interaction of appendages and antennae with tunnel walls to jam the falls. Ds is comparable to the size of incipient nest tunnels (D = 1.06 ± 0.23 L), supporting our hypothesis that fire ants construct environments that simplify their control task when moving through the nest, likely without need for rapid nervous system intervention. PMID:23690589

  18. An Efficient Ant-Based Edge Detector

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Aydın, Doğan

    An efficient ant-based edge detector is presented. It is based on the distribution of ants on an image, ants try to find possible edges by using a state transition function based on 5x5 edge structures. Visual comparisons show that the proposed method gives finer details and thinner edges at lesser computational times when compared to earlier ant-based approaches. When compared to standard edge detectors, it shows robustness to Gaussian and Salt & Pepper noise and provides finer details than others with same parameter set in both clear and noisy images.

  19. Path integration in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis.

    PubMed

    Müller, M; Wehner, R

    1988-07-01

    Foraging desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, continually keep track of their own posotions relative to home- i.e., integrate their tortuous outbound routes and return home along straight (inbound) routes. By experimentally manipulating the ants' outbound trajectories we show that the ants solve this path integration problem not by performing a true vector summation (as a human navigator does) but by employing a computationally simple approximation. This approximation is characterized by small, but systematic, navigational errors that helped us elucidate the ant's way of computing its mean home vector.

  20. Major evolutionary transitions in ant agriculture

    PubMed Central

    Schultz, Ted R.; Brady, Seán G.

    2008-01-01

    Agriculture is a specialized form of symbiosis that is known to have evolved in only four animal groups: humans, bark beetles, termites, and ants. Here, we reconstruct the major evolutionary transitions that produced the five distinct agricultural systems of the fungus-growing ants, the most well studied of the nonhuman agriculturalists. We do so with reference to the first fossil-calibrated, multiple-gene, molecular phylogeny that incorporates the full range of taxonomic diversity within the fungus-growing ant tribe Attini. Our analyses indicate that the original form of ant agriculture, the cultivation of a diverse subset of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae, evolved ≈50 million years ago in the Neotropics, coincident with the early Eocene climatic optimum. During the past 30 million years, three known ant agricultural systems, each involving a phylogenetically distinct set of derived fungal cultivars, have separately arisen from the original agricultural system. One of these derived systems subsequently gave rise to the fifth known system of agriculture, in which a single fungal species is cultivated by leaf-cutter ants. Leaf-cutter ants evolved remarkably recently (≈8–12 million years ago) to become the dominant herbivores of the New World tropics. Our analyses identify relict, extant attine ant species that occupy phylogenetic positions that are transitional between the agricultural systems. Intensive study of those species holds particular promise for clarifying the sequential accretion of ecological and behavioral characters that produced each of the major ant agricultural systems. PMID:18362345

  1. Cuticular Hydrocarbon Pheromones for Social Behavior and Their Coding in the Ant Antenna.

    PubMed

    Sharma, Kavita R; Enzmann, Brittany L; Schmidt, Yvonne; Moore, Dani; Jones, Graeme R; Parker, Jane; Berger, Shelley L; Reinberg, Danny; Zwiebel, Laurence J; Breit, Bernhard; Liebig, Jürgen; Ray, Anandasankar

    2015-08-25

    The sophisticated organization of eusocial insect societies is largely based on the regulation of complex behaviors by hydrocarbon pheromones present on the cuticle. We used electrophysiology to investigate the detection of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) by female-specific olfactory sensilla basiconica on the antenna of Camponotus floridanus ants through the utilization of one of the largest family of odorant receptors characterized so far in insects. These sensilla, each of which contains multiple olfactory receptor neurons, are differentially sensitive to CHCs and allow them to be classified into three broad groups that collectively detect every hydrocarbon tested, including queen and worker-enriched CHCs. This broad-spectrum sensitivity is conserved in a related species, Camponotus laevigatus, allowing these ants to detect CHCs from both nestmates and non-nestmates. Behavioral assays demonstrate that these ants are excellent at discriminating CHCs detected by the antenna, including enantiomers of a candidate queen pheromone that regulates the reproductive division of labor. PMID:26279569

  2. Clonal structure affects the assembling behavior in the Japanese queenless ant Pristomyrmex punctatus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nishide, Yudai; Satoh, Toshiyuki; Hiraoka, Tuyosi; Obara, Yoshiaki; Iwabuchi, Kikuo

    2007-10-01

    The queenless ant Pristomyrmex punctatus (Hymenoptera: Myrmicinae) has a unique society that differs from those of other typical ants. This species does not have a queen, and the workers lay eggs and produce their clones parthenogenetically. However, a colony of these ants does not always comprise members derived from a single clonal line. In this study, we examined whether P. punctatus changes its “assembling behavior” based on colony genetic structure. We prepared two subcolonies—a larger one comprising 200 individuals and a smaller one comprising 100 individuals; these subcolonies were established from a single stock colony. We investigated whether these subcolonies assemble into a single nest. The genetically monomorphic subcolonies (single clonal line) always fused into a single nest; however, the genetically polymorphic subcolonies (multiple clonal lines) did not tend to form a single colony. The present study is the first to demonstrate that the colony genetic structure significantly affects social viscosity in social insects.

  3. Plants in Your Ants: Using Ant Mounds to Test Basic Ecological Principles

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Zettler, Jennifer A.; Collier, Alexander; Leidersdorf, Bil; Sanou, Missa Patrick

    2010-01-01

    Urban students often have limited access to field sites for ecological studies. Ubiquitous ants and their mounds can be used to study and test ecology-based questions. We describe how soil collected from ant mounds can be used to investigate how biotic factors (ants) can affect abiotic factors in the soil that can, in turn, influence plant growth.

  4. Scene perception and the visual control of travel direction in navigating wood ants

    PubMed Central

    Collett, Thomas S.; Lent, David D.; Graham, Paul

    2014-01-01

    This review reflects a few of Mike Land's many and varied contributions to visual science. In it, we show for wood ants, as Mike has done for a variety of animals, including readers of this piece, what can be learnt from a detailed analysis of an animal's visually guided eye, head or body movements. In the case of wood ants, close examination of their body movements, as they follow visually guided routes, is starting to reveal how they perceive and respond to their visual world and negotiate a path within it. We describe first some of the mechanisms that underlie the visual control of their paths, emphasizing that vision is not the ant's only sense. In the second part, we discuss how remembered local shape-dependent and global shape-independent features of a visual scene may interact in guiding the ant's path. PMID:24395962

  5. Fidelity and Promiscuity in an Ant-Plant Mutualism: A Case Study of Triplaris and Pseudomyrmex

    PubMed Central

    Sanchez, Adriana

    2015-01-01

    The association between the myrmecophyte Triplaris and ants of the genus Pseudomyrmex is an often-reported example of mutualism but no molecular studies have examined this association to date. In this study, the interspecific relationships of Triplaris were reconstructed using five molecular markers (two chloroplast and three nuclear), and the relationships of the associated Pseudomyrmex using two molecular regions (one mitochondrial and one nuclear). A data set including all known collections of plant hosts and resident ants was also compiled. The pattern of distribution of both organisms reveals that there are varying degrees of host specificity; most ants show broader host usage (promiscuous) but one species (P. dendroicus) is faithful to a single species of Triplaris. In most ant-plant interactions, host usage is not specific at the species level and preferences may result from geographical or ecological sorting. The specificity of P. dendroicus could be based on chemical recognition of the host they were raised on. PMID:26630384

  6. ANT: Software for Generating and Evaluating Degenerate Codons for Natural and Expanded Genetic Codes.

    PubMed

    Engqvist, Martin K M; Nielsen, Jens

    2015-08-21

    The Ambiguous Nucleotide Tool (ANT) is a desktop application that generates and evaluates degenerate codons. Degenerate codons are used to represent DNA positions that have multiple possible nucleotide alternatives. This is useful for protein engineering and directed evolution, where primers specified with degenerate codons are used as a basis for generating libraries of protein sequences. ANT is intuitive and can be used in a graphical user interface or by interacting with the code through a defined application programming interface. ANT comes with full support for nonstandard, user-defined, or expanded genetic codes (translation tables), which is important because synthetic biology is being applied to an ever widening range of natural and engineered organisms. The Python source code for ANT is freely distributed so that it may be used without restriction, modified, and incorporated in other software or custom data pipelines.

  7. Ants mediate foliar structure and nitrogen acquisition in a tank-bromeliad.

    PubMed

    Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2009-01-01

    Aechmea mertensii is a tank-bromeliad that roots on ant-gardens initiated by the ants Camponotus femoratus and Pachycondyla goeldii. Its leaves form compartments acting as phytotelmata that hold rainwater and provide habitats for invertebrates. In this article, we aimed to determine whether the association with either C. femoratus or P. goeldii influenced the vegetative traits of A. mertensii, invertebrate diversity and nutrient assimilation by the leaves. Transmitted light, vegetative traits and phytotelmata contents were compared between the two A. mertensii ant-gardens. Camponotus femoratus colonized partially shaded areas, whereas P. goeldii colonized exposed areas. The bromeliads' rosettes had a large canopy (C. femoratus ant-gardens), or were smaller and amphora shaped (P. goeldii ant-gardens). There were significant differences in leaf anatomy, as shaded leaves were thicker than exposed leaves. The mean volumes of water, fine particulate organic matter and detritus in C. femoratus-associated bromeliads were three to five times higher than in P. goeldii-associated bromeliads. Moreover, the highest invertebrate diversity and leaf delta(15)N values were found in C. femoratus-associated bromeliads. This study enhances our understanding of the dynamics of biodiversity, and shows how ant-plant interactions can have trophic consequences and thus influence the architecture of the interacting plant via a complex feedback loop.

  8. Increasing trophic complexity influences aphid attendance by ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and predation

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Species that are involved in multitrophic interactions are affected by the trophic levels that are above and below them in both indirect and direct ways. In this experiment, interactions among ants (Formica montana Wheeler; Hymenoptera: Formicidae), aphids (Myzus persicae [Sulzer]; Hemiptera: Aphidi...

  9. The Müller-Lyer Illusion in Ant Foraging

    PubMed Central

    Sakiyama, Tomoko; Gunji, Yukio-Pegio

    2013-01-01

    The Müller-Lyer illusion is a classical geometric illusion in which the apparent (perceived) length of a line depends on whether the line terminates in an arrow tail or arrowhead. This effect may be caused by economic compensation for the gap between the physical stimulus and visual fields. Here, we show that the Müller-Lyer illusion can also be produced by the foraging patterns of garden ants (Lasius niger) and that the pattern obtained can be explained by a simple, asynchronously updated foraging ant model. Our results suggest that the geometric illusion may be a byproduct of the foraging process, in which local interactions underlying efficient exploitation can also give rise to global exploration, and that visual information processing in human could implement similar modulation between local efficient processing and widespread computation. PMID:24349117

  10. Social facilitation of eclosion in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta.

    PubMed

    Lamon, B; Topoff, H

    1985-09-01

    In colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, eclosion is facilitated by adult workers which strip away and consume the pupal cuticle. This stage-specific social interaction involves chemical stimuli which are present at the onset of eclosion, concurrent with the initiation of gross movements and separation of the pupal cuticle. Fire ant workers retrieved inanimate objects treated with an extract of eclosing pupae and placed them in the colony brood chamber with the appropriate age group where they were tended by several workers. The facilitation of eclosion by adult colony members appears to be an obligatory process in the development of this species; pupae denied the aid of adult workers during eclosion are unable to remove the pupal cuticle and rapidly succumb. PMID:4065426

  11. Study on bi-directional pedestrian movement using ant algorithms

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sibel, Gokce; Ozhan, Kayacan

    2016-01-01

    A cellular automata model is proposed to simulate bi-directional pedestrian flow. Pedestrian movement is investigated by using ant algorithms. Ants communicate with each other by dropping a chemical, called a pheromone, on the substrate while crawling forward. Similarly, it is considered that oppositely moving pedestrians drop ‘visual pheromones’ on their way and the visual pheromones might cause attractive or repulsive interactions. This pheromenon is introduced into modelling the pedestrians’ walking preference. In this way, the decision-making process of pedestrians will be based on ‘the instinct of following’. At some densities, the relationships of velocity-density and flux-density are analyzed for different evaporation rates of visual pheromones. Lane formation and phase transition are observed for certain evaporation rates of visual pheromones.

  12. Sugary food robbing in ants: a case of temporal cleptobiosis.

    PubMed

    Richard, Freddie-Jeanne; Dejean, Alain; Lachaud, Jean-Paul

    2004-05-01

    This study reports new information on interactions between Ectatomma tuberculatum (Ponerinae) and Crematogaster limata parabiotica (Myrmicinae). Workers of these sympatric arboreal ant species forage on the same pioneer trees. Diurnally, Ectatomma preyed on Crematogaster workers that avoided overt aggression by respecting a 'safe distance'. At night, Crematogaster initiated raids within the Ectatomma nests that they apparently left with their abdomen empty, then remained near the nest entrances where they successfully intercepted 75.2% of the returning Ectatomma foragers (N = 322). Certain intercepted workers rapidly resumed their return trip. Others (39.1%) were stopped, explored and licked during a long time by the Crematogaster. Most of them were carrying between their mandibles a droplet of liquid food that was stolen. This relationship, that appears to be a typical case of interspecific cleptobiosis, whose expression varies during the daytime, demonstrates for the first time sugary-food robbing, instead of prey robbing, in ants.

  13. ANT2-defective fibroblasts exhibit normal mitochondrial bioenergetics

    PubMed Central

    Prabhu, Dolly; Goldstein, Amy C.; El-Khoury, Riyad; Rak, Malgorzata; Edmunds, Lia; Rustin, Pierre; Vockley, Jerry; Schiff, Manuel

    2015-01-01

    Adenine nucleotide translocase 2 (ANT2) transports glycolytic ATP across the inner mitochondrial membrane. Patients with ANT2 deletion were recently reported. We aimed at characterizing mitochondrial functions in ANT2-defective fibroblasts. In spite of ANT2 expression in fibroblasts, we observed no difference between ANT2-defective and control fibroblasts for mitochondrial respiration, respiratory chain activities, mitochondrial membrane potential and intracellular ATP levels. This indicates that ANT2 insufficiency does not alter fibroblast basal mitochondrial bioenergetics. PMID:26000237

  14. Are Local Filters Blind to Provenance? Ant Seed Predation Suppresses Exotic Plants More than Natives

    PubMed Central

    Pearson, Dean E.; Icasatti, Nadia S.; Hierro, Jose L.; Bird, Benjamin J.

    2014-01-01

    The question of whether species’ origins influence invasion outcomes has been a point of substantial debate in invasion ecology. Theoretically, colonization outcomes can be predicted based on how species’ traits interact with community filters, a process presumably blind to species’ origins. Yet, exotic plant introductions commonly result in monospecific plant densities not commonly seen in native assemblages, suggesting that exotic species may respond to community filters differently than natives. Here, we tested whether exotic and native species differed in their responses to a local community filter by examining how ant seed predation affected recruitment of eighteen native and exotic plant species in central Argentina. Ant seed predation proved to be an important local filter that strongly suppressed plant recruitment, but ants suppressed exotic recruitment far more than natives (89% of exotic species vs. 22% of natives). Seed size predicted ant impacts on recruitment independent of origins, with ant preference for smaller seeds resulting in smaller seeded plant species being heavily suppressed. The disproportionate effects of provenance arose because exotics had generally smaller seeds than natives. Exotics also exhibited greater emergence and earlier peak emergence than natives in the absence of ants. However, when ants had access to seeds, these potential advantages of exotics were negated due to the filtering bias against exotics. The differences in traits we observed between exotics and natives suggest that higher-order introduction filters or regional processes preselected for certain exotic traits that then interacted with the local seed predation filter. Our results suggest that the interactions between local filters and species traits can predict invasion outcomes, but understanding the role of provenance will require quantifying filtering processes at multiple hierarchical scales and evaluating interactions between filters. PMID:25099535

  15. Mimicry and eavesdropping enable a new form of social parasitism in ants.

    PubMed

    Powell, Scott; Del-Claro, Kleber; Feitosa, Rodrigo M; Brandão, Carlos Roberto F

    2014-10-01

    Social parasitism is defined by the exploitation of the social mechanisms of one society by another whole society. Here, we use quantitative ecological data and experiments to identify the components of a new form of social parasitism by the recently discovered "mirror turtle ant," Cephalotes specularis. We show that C. specularis workers visually mimic and actively avoid contact with foragers of the hyperaggressive host ant Crematogaster ampla, allowing them to move freely in the extensive and otherwise defended foraging networks of host colonies. Workers from parasite colonies have immediate access to these networks by nesting exclusively within host territories, and 89% of all potential host territories were parasitized. Inside the network, parasite workers eavesdrop on the host's trail pheromones to locate and exploit food resources that are defended by the host to the exclusion of all other ants. Experiments demonstrated the unprecedented capacity of the parasite for superior foraging performance on its host's pheromone trails than on trails of its own. Considered together, the apparent Batesian-Wallacian mimicry, pheromone-based interceptive eavesdropping, kleptoparasitism, and xenobiotic nesting ecology displayed by C. specularis within the territory and foraging network of a host ant represents a novel adaptive syndrome for social exploitation. PMID:25226185

  16. Learning about a Fish from an ANT: Actor Network Theory and Science Education in the Postgenomic Era

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Pierce, Clayton

    2015-01-01

    This article uses actor network theory (ANT) to develop a more appropriate model of scientific literacy for students, teachers, and citizens in a society increasingly populated with biotechnological and bioscientific nonhumans. In so doing, I take the recent debate surrounding the first genetically engineered animal food product under review by…

  17. Ant-seed mutualisms: Can red imported fire ants sour the relationship?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Zettler, J.A.; Spira, T.P.; Allen, C.R.

    2001-01-01

    Invasion by the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, has had negative impacts on individual animal and plant species, but little is known about how S. invicta affects complex mutualistic relationships. In some eastern forests of North America, 30% of herbaceous species have ant-dispersed seeds. We conducted experiments to determine if fire ants are attracted to seeds of these plant species and assessed the amount of scarification or damage that results from handling by fire ants. Fire ants removed nearly 100% of seeds of the ant-dispersed plants Trillium undulatum, T. discolor, T. catesbaei, Viola rotundifolia, and Sanguinaria canadensis. In recovered seeds fed to ant colonies, fire ants scarified 80% of S. canadensis seeds and destroyed 86% of V. rotundifolia seeds. Our study is the first to document that red imported fire ants are attracted to and remove seeds of species adapted for ant dispersal. Moreover, fire ants might damage these seeds and discard them in sites unfavorable for germination and seedling establishment. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

  18. Urban Pest Management of Ants in California

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Keeping pace with the dynamic and evolving landscape of invasive ants in California presents a formidable challenge to the pest management industry. Pest management professionals (PMPs) are on the frontlines when it comes to battling these exotic ant pests, and are often the first ones to intercept ...

  19. Neuropeptidomics of the carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus.

    PubMed

    Schmitt, Franziska; Vanselow, Jens T; Schlosser, Andreas; Kahnt, Jörg; Rössler, Wolfgang; Wegener, Christian

    2015-03-01

    Ants show a rich behavioral repertoire and a highly complex organization, which have been attracting behavioral and sociobiological researchers for a long time. The neuronal underpinnings of ant behavior and social organization are, however, much less understood. Neuropeptides are key signals that orchestrate animal behavior and physiology, and it is thus feasible to assume that they play an important role also for the social constitution of ants. Despite the availability of different ant genomes and in silico prediction of ant neuropeptides, a comprehensive biochemical survey of the neuropeptidergic communication possibilities of ants is missing. We therefore combined different mass spectrometric methods to characterize the neuropeptidome of the adult carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus. We also characterized the local neuropeptide complement in different parts of the nervous and neuroendocrine system, including the antennal and optic lobes. Our analysis identifies 39 neuropeptides encoded by different prepropeptide genes, and in silico predicts new prepropeptide genes encoding CAPA peptides, CNMamide as well as homologues of the honey bee IDLSRFYGHFNT- and ITGQGNRIF-containing peptides. Our data provides basic information about the identity and localization of neuropeptides that is required to anatomically and functionally address the role and significance of neuropeptides in ant behavior and physiology.

  20. Neuropeptidomics of the carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus.

    PubMed

    Schmitt, Franziska; Vanselow, Jens T; Schlosser, Andreas; Kahnt, Jörg; Rössler, Wolfgang; Wegener, Christian

    2015-03-01

    Ants show a rich behavioral repertoire and a highly complex organization, which have been attracting behavioral and sociobiological researchers for a long time. The neuronal underpinnings of ant behavior and social organization are, however, much less understood. Neuropeptides are key signals that orchestrate animal behavior and physiology, and it is thus feasible to assume that they play an important role also for the social constitution of ants. Despite the availability of different ant genomes and in silico prediction of ant neuropeptides, a comprehensive biochemical survey of the neuropeptidergic communication possibilities of ants is missing. We therefore combined different mass spectrometric methods to characterize the neuropeptidome of the adult carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus. We also characterized the local neuropeptide complement in different parts of the nervous and neuroendocrine system, including the antennal and optic lobes. Our analysis identifies 39 neuropeptides encoded by different prepropeptide genes, and in silico predicts new prepropeptide genes encoding CAPA peptides, CNMamide as well as homologues of the honey bee IDLSRFYGHFNT- and ITGQGNRIF-containing peptides. Our data provides basic information about the identity and localization of neuropeptides that is required to anatomically and functionally address the role and significance of neuropeptides in ant behavior and physiology. PMID:25641051

  1. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms.

    PubMed

    Touchard, Axel; Aili, Samira R; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Escoubas, Pierre; Orivel, Jérôme; Nicholson, Graham M; Dejean, Alain

    2016-01-01

    Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:26805882

  2. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Touchard, Axel; Aili, Samira R.; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Escoubas, Pierre; Orivel, Jérôme; Nicholson, Graham M.; Dejean, Alain

    2016-01-01

    Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:26805882

  3. Reduced biological control and enhanced chemical pest management in the evolution of fungus farming in ants.

    PubMed

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Zimmerman, Jess K; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J; Wcislo, William T

    2009-06-22

    To combat disease, most fungus-growing ants (Attini) use antibiotics from mutualistic bacteria (Pseudonocardia) that are cultured on the ants' exoskeletons and chemical cocktails from exocrine glands, especially the metapleural glands (MG). Previous work has hypothesized that (i) Pseudonocardia antibiotics are narrow-spectrum and control a fungus (Escovopsis) that parasitizes the ants' fungal symbiont, and (ii) MG secretions have broad-spectrum activity and protect ants and brood. We assessed the relative importance of these lines of defence, and their activity spectra, by scoring abundance of visible Pseudonocardia for nine species from five genera and measuring rates of MG grooming after challenging ants with disease agents of differing virulence. Atta and Sericomyrmex have lost or greatly reduced the abundance of visible bacteria. When challenged with diverse disease agents, including Escovopsis, they significantly increased MG grooming rates and expanded the range of targets. By contrast, species of Acromyrmex and Trachymyrmex maintain abundant Pseudonocardia. When challenged, these species had lower MG grooming rates, targeted primarily to brood. More elaborate MG defences and reduced reliance on mutualistic Pseudonocardia are correlated with larger colony size among attine genera, raising questions about the efficacy of managing disease in large societies with chemical cocktails versus bacterial antimicrobial metabolites.

  4. Computational model of collective nest selection by ants with heterogeneous acceptance thresholds

    PubMed Central

    Masuda, Naoki; O'shea-Wheller, Thomas A.; Doran, Carolina; Franks, Nigel R.

    2015-01-01

    Collective decision-making is a characteristic of societies ranging from ants to humans. The ant Temnothorax albipennis is known to use quorum sensing to collectively decide on a new home; emigration to a new nest site occurs when the number of ants favouring the new site becomes quorate. There are several possible mechanisms by which ant colonies can select the best nest site among alternatives based on a quorum mechanism. In this study, we use computational models to examine the implications of heterogeneous acceptance thresholds across individual ants in collective nest choice behaviour. We take a minimalist approach to develop a differential equation model and a corresponding non-spatial agent-based model. We show, consistent with existing empirical evidence, that heterogeneity in acceptance thresholds is a viable mechanism for efficient nest choice behaviour. In particular, we show that the proposed models show speed–accuracy trade-offs and speed–cohesion trade-offs when we vary the number of scouts or the quorum threshold. PMID:26543578

  5. Computational model of collective nest selection by ants with heterogeneous acceptance thresholds.

    PubMed

    Masuda, Naoki; O'shea-Wheller, Thomas A; Doran, Carolina; Franks, Nigel R

    2015-06-01

    Collective decision-making is a characteristic of societies ranging from ants to humans. The ant Temnothorax albipennis is known to use quorum sensing to collectively decide on a new home; emigration to a new nest site occurs when the number of ants favouring the new site becomes quorate. There are several possible mechanisms by which ant colonies can select the best nest site among alternatives based on a quorum mechanism. In this study, we use computational models to examine the implications of heterogeneous acceptance thresholds across individual ants in collective nest choice behaviour. We take a minimalist approach to develop a differential equation model and a corresponding non-spatial agent-based model. We show, consistent with existing empirical evidence, that heterogeneity in acceptance thresholds is a viable mechanism for efficient nest choice behaviour. In particular, we show that the proposed models show speed-accuracy trade-offs and speed-cohesion trade-offs when we vary the number of scouts or the quorum threshold. PMID:26543578

  6. Reduced entomopathogen abundance in Myrmica ant nests—testing a possible immunological benefit of myrmecophily using Galleria mellonella as a model

    PubMed Central

    Schär, Sämi; Larsen, Louise L. M.; Meyling, Nicolai V.; Nash, David R.

    2015-01-01

    Social insects such as ants have evolved collective rather than individual immune defence strategies against diseases and parasites at the level of their societies (colonies), known as social immunity. Ants frequently host other arthropods, so-called myrmecophiles, in their nests. Here, we tested the hypothesis that myrmecophily may partly arise from selection for exploiting the ants’ social immunity. We used larvae of the wax moth Galleria mellonella as ‘model myrmecophiles’ (baits) to test this hypothesis. We found significantly reduced abundance of entomopathogens in ant nests compared with the surrounding environment. Specific entomopathogen groups (Isaria fumosorosea and nematodes) were also found to be significantly less abundant inside than outside ant nests, whereas one entomopathogen (Beauveria brongniartii) was significantly more abundant inside nests. We therefore hypothesize that immunological benefits of entering ant nests may provide us a new explanation of why natural selection acts in favour of such a life-history strategy. PMID:26587252

  7. Ants defend aphids against lethal disease.

    PubMed

    Nielsen, Charlotte; Agrawal, Anurag A; Hajek, Ann E

    2010-04-23

    Social insects defend their own colonies and some species also protect their mutualist partners. In mutualisms with aphids, ants typically feed on honeydew produced by aphids and, in turn guard and shelter aphid colonies from insect natural enemies. Here we report that Formica podzolica ants tending milkweed aphids, Aphis asclepiadis, protect aphid colonies from lethal fungal infections caused by an obligate aphid pathogen, Pandora neoaphidis. In field experiments, bodies of fungal-killed aphids were quickly removed from ant-tended aphid colonies. Ant workers were also able to detect infective conidia on the cuticle of living aphids and responded by either removing or grooming these aphids. Our results extend the long-standing view of ants as mutualists and protectors of aphids by demonstrating focused sanitizing and quarantining behaviour that may lead to reduced disease transmission in aphid colonies.

  8. Cryptococcus neoformans carried by Odontomachus bauri ants.

    PubMed

    Jesus, Mariana Santos de; Rodrigues, William Costa; Barbosa, Glaucia; Trilles, Luciana; Wanke, Bodo; Lazéra, Márcia dos Santos; Silva, Manuela da

    2012-06-01

    Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common causative agent of cryptococcosis worldwide. Although this fungus has been isolated from a variety of organic substrates, several studies suggest that hollow trees constitute an important natural niche for C. neoformans. A previously surveyed hollow of a living pink shower tree (Cassia grandis) positive for C. neoformans in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was chosen for further investigation. Odontomachus bauri ants (trap-jaw ants) found inside the hollow were collected for evaluation as possible carriers of Cryptococcus spp. Two out of 10 ants were found to carry phenoloxidase-positive colonies identified as C. neoformans molecular types VNI and VNII. The ants may have acted as a mechanical vector of C. neoformans and possibly contributed to the dispersal of the fungi from one substrate to another. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the association of C. neoformans with ants of the genus Odontomachus. PMID:22666855

  9. Microtubules viewed as molecular ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Tabony, James

    2006-10-01

    Populations of ants and other social insects self-organize and develop 'emergent' properties through stigmergy in which individual ants communicate with one another via chemical trails of pheromones that attract or repulse other ants. In this way, sophisticated properties and functions develop. Under appropriate conditions, in vitro microtubule preparations, initially comprised of only tubulin and GTP, behave in a similar manner. They self-organize and develop other higher-level emergent phenomena by a process where individual microtubules are coupled together by the chemical trails they produce by their own reactive growing and shrinking. This behaviour is described and compared with the behaviour of ant colonies. Viewing microtubules as populations of molecular ants may provide new insights as to how the cytoskeleton may spontaneously develop high-level functions. It is plausible that such processes occur during the early stages of embryogenesis and in cells. PMID:16968217

  10. Cryptococcus neoformans carried by Odontomachus bauri ants.

    PubMed

    Jesus, Mariana Santos de; Rodrigues, William Costa; Barbosa, Glaucia; Trilles, Luciana; Wanke, Bodo; Lazéra, Márcia dos Santos; Silva, Manuela da

    2012-06-01

    Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common causative agent of cryptococcosis worldwide. Although this fungus has been isolated from a variety of organic substrates, several studies suggest that hollow trees constitute an important natural niche for C. neoformans. A previously surveyed hollow of a living pink shower tree (Cassia grandis) positive for C. neoformans in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was chosen for further investigation. Odontomachus bauri ants (trap-jaw ants) found inside the hollow were collected for evaluation as possible carriers of Cryptococcus spp. Two out of 10 ants were found to carry phenoloxidase-positive colonies identified as C. neoformans molecular types VNI and VNII. The ants may have acted as a mechanical vector of C. neoformans and possibly contributed to the dispersal of the fungi from one substrate to another. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the association of C. neoformans with ants of the genus Odontomachus.

  11. Spatiotemporal chemotactic model for ant foraging

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ramakrishnan, Subramanian; Laurent, Thomas; Kumar, Manish; Bertozzi, Andrea L.

    2014-12-01

    In this paper, we present a generic theoretical chemotactic model that accounts for certain emergent behaviors observed in ant foraging. The model does not have many of the constraints and limitations of existing models for ants colony dynamics and takes into account the distinctly different behaviors exhibited in nature by ant foragers in search of food and food ferrying ants. Numerical simulations based on the model show trail formation in foraging ant colonies to be an emergent phenomenon and, in particular, replicate behavior observed in experiments involving the species P. megacephala. The results have broader implications for the study of randomness in chemotactic models. Potential applications include the developments of novel algorithms for stochastic search in engineered complex systems such as robotic swarms.

  12. Methods and strategies for assessing uncontrolled drug-drug interactions in population pharmacokinetic analyses: results from the International Society of Pharmacometrics (ISOP) Working Group.

    PubMed

    Bonate, Peter L; Ahamadi, Malidi; Budha, Nageshwar; de la Peña, Amparo; Earp, Justin C; Hong, Ying; Karlsson, Mats O; Ravva, Patanjali; Ruiz-Garcia, Ana; Struemper, Herbert; Wade, Janet R

    2016-04-01

    The purpose of this work was to present a consolidated set of guidelines for the analysis of uncontrolled concomitant medications (ConMed) as a covariate and potential perpetrator in population pharmacokinetic (PopPK) analyses. This white paper is the result of an industry-academia-regulatory collaboration. It is the recommendation of the working group that greater focus be given to the analysis of uncontrolled ConMeds as part of a PopPK analysis of Phase 2/3 data to ensure that the resulting outcome in the PopPK analysis can be viewed as reliable. Other recommendations include: (1) collection of start and stop date and clock time, as well as dose and frequency, in Case Report Forms regarding ConMed administration schedule; (2) prespecification of goals and the methods of analysis, (3) consideration of alternate models, other than the binary covariate model, that might more fully characterize the interaction between perpetrator and victim drug, (4) analysts should consider whether the sample size, not the percent of subjects taking a ConMed, is sufficient to detect a ConMed effect if one is present and to consider the correlation with other covariates when the analysis is conducted, (5) grouping of ConMeds should be based on mechanism (e.g., PGP-inhibitor) and not drug class (e.g., beta-blocker), and (6) when reporting the results in a publication, all details related to the ConMed analysis should be presented allowing the reader to understand the methods and be able to appropriately interpret the results. PMID:26837775

  13. Floral visitation by the Argentine ant reduces pollinator visitation and seed set in the coast barrel cactus, Ferocactus viridescens.

    PubMed

    LeVan, Katherine E; Hung, Keng-Lou James; McCann, Kyle R; Ludka, John T; Holway, David A

    2014-01-01

    Mounting evidence indicates that trade-offs between plant defense and reproduction arise not only from resource allocation but also from interactions among mutualists. Indirect costs of plant defense by ants, for example, can outweigh benefits if ants deter pollinators. Plants can dissuade ants from occupying flowers, but such arrangements may break down when novel ant partners infiltrate mutualisms. Here, we examine how floral visitation by ants affects pollination services when the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) replaces a native ant species in a food-for-protection mutualism with the coast barrel cactus (Ferocactus viridescens), which, like certain other barrel cacti, produces extrafloral nectar. We compared the effects of floral visitation by the Argentine ant with those of the most prevalent native ant species (Crematogaster californica). Compared to C. californica, the Argentine ant was present in higher numbers in flowers. Cactus bees (Diadasia spp.), the key pollinators in this system, spent less time in flowers when cacti were occupied by the Argentine ant compared to when cacti were occupied by C. californica. Presumably as a consequence of decreased duration of floral visits by Diadasia, cacti occupied by L. humile set fewer seeds per fruit and produced fewer seeds overall compared to cacti occupied by C. californica. These data illustrate the importance of mutualist identity in cases where plants balance multiple mutualisms. Moreover, as habitats become increasingly infiltrated by introduced species, the loss of native mutualists and their replacement by non-native species may alter the shape of trade-offs between plant defense and reproduction.

  14. Environmental Design for a Structured Network Learning Society

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Chang, Ben; Cheng, Nien-Heng; Deng, Yi-Chan; Chan, Tak-Wai

    2007-01-01

    Social interactions profoundly impact the learning processes of learners in traditional societies. The rapid rise of the Internet using population has been the establishment of numerous different styles of network communities. Network societies form when more Internet communities are established, but the basic form of a network society, especially…

  15. Diaspore trait preferences of dispersing ants.

    PubMed

    Reifenrath, Kerstin; Becker, Christine; Poethke, Hans Joachim

    2012-09-01

    Elaiosomes of myrmecochorous plant seeds are known to enhance the attraction of diaspore-dispersing ants by serving as a nutritional reward. However, it remained unclear which (nutritional) compounds affect diaspore preferences of ants. We hypothesized that apart from elaiosome/seed-size ratio, volume, and physical surface of diaspores, the quantity and the composition of fatty acids, amino acids, and sugars strongly influence the diaspore preferences of different species. Chemical (nutritional) profiles as well as structural properties of seeds with and without elaiosomes were analyzed and correlated with observed seed choice behavior of ants. Cafeteria experiments in the field confirmed the enhanced attractiveness of elaiosome-bearing seeds for all three ant species tested (Lasius fuliginosus, Myrmica ruginodis, and Temnothorax nylanderi), although seeds lacking elaiosomes also were transported. In multiple-choice cafeteria experiments with simultaneously offered diaspores of 16 plant species with and without elaiosome and with highly varying structural and chemical properties, all three ant species showed distinct preferences for certain diaspore species. Correlation analyses confirmed that the presence of an elaiosome represents the crucial factor that favors ant diaspore dispersal. In addition, the composition and the content of free amino acids, and to varying degrees fatty acids, were found to significantly affect preferences of each ant species, whereas the effect of single fatty acids acting as chemical triggers for diaspore transport by ants, as supposed by several studies, was not confirmed. In conclusion, although at least some diaspore species lacking elaiosomes attract ants for diaspore removal services by presenting nutritional seed coats, the production of elaiosomes seems to provide a worthwhile investment. Elaiosomes ensure rapid diaspore detection and removal due to chemical cue compounds and by offering a highly nutritional food supply, probably

  16. [Ants and aliens. An episode in the history of entomological and sociological construction of knowledge].

    PubMed

    Werber, Niels

    2011-09-01

    The frequent use of biological metaphors in descriptions of society is well known and has already been investigated. Even the traces of biological theory in sociology have been explored. In this field of science, studies of social insects play an important role, because ants, bees, and termites have been considered to be genuinely political animals and founders of societies. Like men, social insects exist only in collectives; thus, the entomologist's research directs him from the individual insect, its morphology and taxonomy to the analysis of insect societies. Entomologists like Wheeler or Wilson become sociologists and develop methods to deal with a society whose members are dumb, soulless, without reason, rational choice, or motives. Tools invented to describe the evolution of insect societies have been picked up by sociological founders of systems theory like Parsons or Luhmann, who were busy building a theory of a society, which for heuristic reasons is not composed of men (individuals with souls, motives, consciousness and so on) but rather of communications, media, or codes. My paper treats 1.) the genealogy of this discursive mixture of problems, methods, and focuses on 2.) the rhetorical dimension of this entomological-sociological passage. I will sketch certain 'evident' pictures of society, which function as media of a subliminal crossing of entomological and sociological premises, models, and assumptions. Both can be found in novels like Wilson's Anthill, which this paper analyzes with respect to the concepts of society implied by them, that is, concepts whose blueprints are based on models of an ant society. PMID:22043657

  17. Timekeeping through social contacts: social synchronization of circadian locomotor activity rhythm in the carpenter ant Camponotus paria.

    PubMed

    Lone, Shahnaz Rahman; Sharma, Vijay Kumar

    2011-12-01

    In ant colonies a large proportion of individuals remain inside nests for most of their lives and come out only when necessary. It is not clear how, in a nest of several thousand individuals, information about local time is communicated among members of the colony. Central to this seem to be circadian clocks, which have an intrinsic ability to keep track of local time by entraining to environmental light-dark, temperature, and social cycles. Here, the authors report the results of their study aimed at understanding the role of cyclic social interactions in circadian timekeeping of a day-active species of carpenter ant Camponotus paria. The authors found that daily social interactions with visitors (worker ants) was able to synchronize the circadian locomotor activity rhythm of host worker ants and queens, in one-on-one (pair-wise) and multi-individual (group-wise) interactions. Interestingly, the outcome of cyclic social interactions was context specific; when visitor workers socially interacted with host workers one-on-one, host workers considered the time of interaction as subjective day, but when visitor workers interacted with a group of workers and queens, the hosts considered the time of interaction as subjective night. These results can be taken to suggest that members of the ant species C. paria keep track of local time by socially interacting with workers (foragers) who shuttle in and out of the colony in search of food. (Author correspondence: vsharma@jncasr.ac.in ).

  18. Timekeeping through social contacts: social synchronization of circadian locomotor activity rhythm in the carpenter ant Camponotus paria.

    PubMed

    Lone, Shahnaz Rahman; Sharma, Vijay Kumar

    2011-12-01

    In ant colonies a large proportion of individuals remain inside nests for most of their lives and come out only when necessary. It is not clear how, in a nest of several thousand individuals, information about local time is communicated among members of the colony. Central to this seem to be circadian clocks, which have an intrinsic ability to keep track of local time by entraining to environmental light-dark, temperature, and social cycles. Here, the authors report the results of their study aimed at understanding the role of cyclic social interactions in circadian timekeeping of a day-active species of carpenter ant Camponotus paria. The authors found that daily social interactions with visitors (worker ants) was able to synchronize the circadian locomotor activity rhythm of host worker ants and queens, in one-on-one (pair-wise) and multi-individual (group-wise) interactions. Interestingly, the outcome of cyclic social interactions was context specific; when visitor workers socially interacted with host workers one-on-one, host workers considered the time of interaction as subjective day, but when visitor workers interacted with a group of workers and queens, the hosts considered the time of interaction as subjective night. These results can be taken to suggest that members of the ant species C. paria keep track of local time by socially interacting with workers (foragers) who shuttle in and out of the colony in search of food. (Author correspondence: vsharma@jncasr.ac.in ). PMID:22080731

  19. How to escape from the host nest: imperfect chemical mimicry in eucharitid parasitoids and exploitation of the ants' hygienic behavior.

    PubMed

    Pérez-Lachaud, Gabriela; Bartolo-Reyes, Juan Carlos; Quiroa-Montalván, Claudia M; Cruz-López, Leopoldo; Lenoir, Alain; Lachaud, Jean-Paul

    2015-04-01

    Communication in ants is based to a great extent on chemical compounds. Recognition of intruders is primarily based on cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profile matching but is prone to being cheated. Eucharitid wasps are specific parasitoids of the brood of ants; the immature stages are either well integrated within the colony or are protected within the host cocoons, whereas adult wasps at emergence must leave their host nest to reproduce and need to circumvent the ant recognition system to escape unscathed. The behavioral interactions between eucharitid wasps and workers of their host, the Neotropical ant Ectatomma tuberculatum, are characterized. In experimental bioassays, newly emerged parasitoids were not violently aggressed. They remained still and were grabbed by ants upon contact and transported outside the nest; host workers were even observed struggling to reject them. Parasitoids were removed from the nest within five minutes, and most were unharmed, although two wasps (out of 30) were killed during the interaction with the ants. We analyzed the CHCs of the ant and its two parasitoids, Dilocantha lachaudii and Isomerala coronata, and found that although wasps shared all of their compounds with the ants, each wasp species had typical blends and hydrocarbon abundance was also species specific. Furthermore, the wasps had relatively few CHCs compared to E. tuberculatum (22-44% of the host components), and these were present in low amounts. Wasps, only partially mimicking the host CHC profile, were immediately recognized as alien and actively removed from the nest by the ants. Hexane-washed wasps were also transported to the refuse piles, but only after being thoroughly inspected and after most of the workers had initially ignored them. Being recognized as intruder may be to the parasitoids' advantage, allowing them to quickly leave the natal nest, and therefore enhancing the fitness of these very short lived parasitoids. We suggest that eucharitids take advantage

  20. Divergent Chemical Cues Elicit Seed Collecting by Ants in an Obligate Multi-Species Mutualism in Lowland Amazonia

    PubMed Central

    Youngsteadt, Elsa; Guerra Bustios, Patricia; Schal, Coby

    2010-01-01

    In lowland Amazonian rainforests, specific ants collect seeds of several plant species and cultivate them in arboreal carton nests, forming species-specific symbioses called ant-gardens (AGs). In this obligate mutualism, ants depend on the plants for nest stability and the plants depend on ant nests for substrate and nutrients. AG ants and plants are abundant, dominant members of lowland Amazonian ecosystems, but the cues ants use to recognize the seeds are poorly understood. To address the chemical basis of the ant-seed interaction, we surveyed seed chemistry in nine AG species and eight non-AG congeners. We detected seven phenolic and terpenoid volatiles common to seeds of all or most of the AG species, but a blend of the shared compounds was not attractive to the AG ant Camponotus femoratus. We also analyzed seeds of three AG species (Anthurium gracile, Codonanthe uleana, and Peperomia macrostachya) using behavior-guided fractionation. At least one chromatographic fraction of each seed extract elicited retrieval behavior in C. femoratus, but the active fractions of the three plant species differed in polarity and chemical composition, indicating that shared compounds alone did not explain seed-carrying behavior. We suggest that the various AG seed species must elicit seed-carrying with different chemical cues. PMID:21209898

  1. Divergent chemical cues elicit seed collecting by ants in an obligate multi-species mutualism in lowland Amazonia.

    PubMed

    Youngsteadt, Elsa; Guerra Bustios, Patricia; Schal, Coby

    2010-12-30

    In lowland Amazonian rainforests, specific ants collect seeds of several plant species and cultivate them in arboreal carton nests, forming species-specific symbioses called ant-gardens (AGs). In this obligate mutualism, ants depend on the plants for nest stability and the plants depend on ant nests for substrate and nutrients. AG ants and plants are abundant, dominant members of lowland Amazonian ecosystems, but the cues ants use to recognize the seeds are poorly understood. To address the chemical basis of the ant-seed interaction, we surveyed seed chemistry in nine AG species and eight non-AG congeners. We detected seven phenolic and terpenoid volatiles common to seeds of all or most of the AG species, but a blend of the shared compounds was not attractive to the AG ant Camponotus femoratus. We also analyzed seeds of three AG species (Anthurium gracile, Codonanthe uleana, and Peperomia macrostachya) using behavior-guided fractionation. At least one chromatographic fraction of each seed extract elicited retrieval behavior in C. femoratus, but the active fractions of the three plant species differed in polarity and chemical composition, indicating that shared compounds alone did not explain seed-carrying behavior. We suggest that the various AG seed species must elicit seed-carrying with different chemical cues.

  2. Large interclone differences in melezitose secretion in the facultatively ant-tended black bean aphid Aphis fabae.

    PubMed

    Vantaux, A; Van den Ende, W; Billen, J; Wenseleers, T

    2011-12-01

    Many aphids are known to engage in a trophic mutualism with ants, whereby the aphids secrete sugary-rich honeydew which is collected by the ants for food, and the ants, in exchange, protect the aphids against natural enemies. Previous results, however, suggest that the production of some of the honeydew sugars, such as the ant-attractant trisaccharide melezitose, may induce an indirect cost to the aphids. This led us to believe that large differences in the nature of the secreted honeydew might exist, due to some clones capitalizing more or less on their mutualistic interaction with ants, or due to some "cheater" clones foregoing the production of particular sugars, instead taking advantage of the ant-attracting effect of other non sugar-deficient clones, co-occurring on the same plant. Here we present data on clonal variation in the composition of honeydew of the black bean aphid Aphis fabae which confirm this prediction. In particular, our results show that there was large interclone variation in the amount of glucose, melezitose and total sugar produced. The variation in the production of melezitose, however, showed particularly large differences, with 54% (7 out of 13) of the clones screened being virtually deficient for the production of this sugar, irrespective of whether the aphid colonies were ant-tended or not. The consequences of this finding in the context of the evolution and maintenance of the ant-aphid mutualism, as well as the adaptive benefits of oligosaccharide synthesis in aphids and other insects are discussed.

  3. Indian Vacuum Society: The Indian Vacuum Society

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saha, T. K.

    2008-03-01

    The Indian Vacuum Society (IVS) was established in 1970. It has over 800 members including many from Industry and R & D Institutions spread throughout India. The society has an active chapter at Kolkata. The society was formed with the main aim to promote, encourage and develop the growth of Vacuum Science, Techniques and Applications in India. In order to achieve this aim it has conducted a number of short term courses at graduate and technician levels on vacuum science and technology on topics ranging from low vacuum to ultrahigh vacuum So far it has conducted 39 such courses at different parts of the country and imparted training to more than 1200 persons in the field. Some of these courses were in-plant training courses conducted on the premises of the establishment and designed to take care of the special needs of the establishment. IVS also regularly conducts national and international seminars and symposia on vacuum science and technology with special emphasis on some theme related to applications of vacuum. A large number of delegates from all over India take part in the deliberations of such seminars and symposia and present their work. IVS also arranges technical visits to different industries and research institutes. The society also helped in the UNESCO sponsored post-graduate level courses in vacuum science, technology and applications conducted by Mumbai University. The society has also designed a certificate and diploma course for graduate level students studying vacuum science and technology and has submitted a syllabus to the academic council of the University of Mumbai for their approval, we hope that some colleges affiliated to the university will start this course from the coming academic year. IVS extended its support in standardizing many of the vacuum instruments and played a vital role in helping to set up a Regional Testing Centre along with BARC. As part of the development of vacuum education, the society arranges the participation of

  4. Thermal tolerance affects mutualist attendance in an ant-plant protection mutualism

    PubMed Central

    Fitzpatrick, Ginny; Lanan, Michele C.; Bronstein, Judith L.

    2014-01-01

    Mutualism is an often-complex interaction among multiple species, each of which may respond differently to abiotic conditions. The effects of temperature on the formation, dissolution, and success of these and other species interactions remain poorly understood. We studied the thermal ecology of the mutualism between the cactus Ferocactus wislizeni and its ant defenders (Forelius pruinosus, Crematogaster opuntiae, Solenopsis aurea, and Solenopsis xyloni) in the Sonoran Desert, USA. The ants are attracted to extrafloral nectar produced by the plants and in exchange protect the plants from herbivores; there is a hierarchy of mutualist effectiveness based on aggression toward herbivores. We determined the relationship between temperature and ant activity on plants, the thermal tolerance of each ant species, and ant activity in relation to the thermal environment of plants. Temperature played a role in determining which species interact as mutualists. Three of the four ant species abandoned the plants during the hottest part of the day (up to 40°C), returning when surface temperature began to decrease in the afternoon. The least effective ant mutualist, F. pruinosus, had a significantly higher critical thermal maximum than the other three species, was active across the entire range of plant surface temperatures observed (13.8-57.0°C), and visited plants that reached the highest temperatures. F. pruinosus occupied some plants full-time and invaded plants occupied by more dominant species when those species were thermally excluded. Combining data on thermal tolerance and mutualist effectiveness provides a potentially powerful tool for predicting the effects of temperature on mutualisms and mutualistic species. PMID:25012597

  5. Geologists' Role in Society

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bally, A. W.; And Others

    1976-01-01

    At a meeting sponsored by the Geological Society of America, earth scientists examined their function in society. Participants concluded that earth scientists are not providing a rationale for value judgments concerning the use and limitations of the earth and a program aimed at understanding solid-Earth resource systems is needed. (BT)

  6. Schools, Violence, and Society.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hoffman, Allan M., Ed.

    The seeming increase of violence in American society and its schools has become a pressing issue. Some researchers argue that the American education system mirrors the dynamics of society. The articles in this book address the following issues: the extent of violence in American schools; the forms that violence takes; its root causes; the effects…

  7. Navigating the Information Society.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kirk, Joyce

    This paper explores the idea of an information society from different perspectives, raises issues that are relevant to university libraries, and offers a way forward to some future developments. The first section provides a sketch of the information society in Australia and presents statistics on readiness, intensity, and impacts from reports…

  8. Environment, energy, and society

    SciTech Connect

    Humphrey, C.R.; Buttel, F.R.

    1986-01-01

    This book delineates the major ways in which human society and the environment affect each other. To study the structure of societies, it employs three conceptual models, or sociological paradigms, conservative, liberal, and radical. The book explains the courses in environmental sociology, international development, natural resources, agriculture, and urban or regional planning.

  9. Autonomous Agents on Expedition: Humans and Progenitor Ants and Planetary Exploration

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rilee, M. L.; Clark, P. E.; Curtis, S. A.; Truszkowski, W. F.

    2002-01-01

    The Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm (ANTS) is an advanced mission architecture based on a social insect analog of many specialized spacecraft working together to achieve mission goals. The principal mission concept driving the ANTS architecture is a Main Belt Asteroid Survey in the 2020s that will involve a thousand or more nano-technology enabled, artificially intelligent, autonomous pico-spacecraft (< 1 kg). The objective of this survey is to construct a compendium of composition, shape, and other physical parameter observations of a significant fraction of asteroid belt objects. Such an atlas will be of primary scientific importance for the understanding of Solar System origins and evolution and will lay the foundation for future exploration and capitalization of space. As the capabilities enabling ANTS are developed over the next two decades, these capabilities will need to be proven. Natural milestones for this process include the deployment of progenitors to ANTS on human expeditions to space and remote missions with interfaces for human interaction and control. These progenitors can show up in a variety of forms ranging from spacecraft subsystems and advanced handheld sensors, through complete prototypical ANTS spacecraft. A critical capability to be demonstrated is reliable, long-term autonomous operations across the ANTS architecture. High level, mission-oriented behaviors are to be managed by a control / communications layer of the swarm, whereas common low level functions required of all spacecraft, e.g. attitude control and guidance and navigation, are handled autonomically on each spacecraft. At the higher levels of mission planning and social interaction deliberative techniques are to be used. For the asteroid survey, ANTS acts as a large community of cooperative agents while for precursor missions there arises the intriguing possibility of Progenitor ANTS and humans acting together as agents. For optimal efficiency and responsiveness for individual

  10. Leadership in an Egalitarian Society

    PubMed Central

    von Rueden, Christopher; Gurven, Michael; Kaplan, Hillard; Stieglitz, Jonathan

    2014-01-01

    Leadership is instrumental to resolution of collective action dilemmas, particularly in large, heterogeneous groups. Less is known about the characteristics or effectiveness of leadership in small-scale, homogeneous, and relatively egalitarian societies, in which humans have spent most of our existence. Among Tsimane’ forager-horticulturalists of Bolivia, we (1) assess traits of elected leaders under experimental and naturalistic conditions and (2) test whether leaders impact collective action outcomes. We find that elected leaders are physically strong and have more kin and other exchange partners. Their ranks on physical dominance, kin support, and trustworthiness predict how well their groups perform, but only where group members have a history of collaborative interaction. Leaders do not take more of the spoils. We discuss why physically strong leaders can be compatible with egalitarianism, and we suggest that leaders in egalitarian societies may be more motivated by maintaining an altruistic reputation than by short-term rewards of collective action. PMID:25240393

  11. Floods and Societies: Dynamic Modeling

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Di Baldassarre, G.; Viglione, A.; Carr, G.; Kuil, L., Jr.; Brandimarte, L.; Bloeschl, G.

    2014-12-01

    There is growing concern that future flood losses and fatalities might increase significantly in many regions of the world because of rapid urbanization in deltas and floodplains, in addition to sea level rise and climate change. To better anticipate long-term trajectories of future flood risk, there is a need to treat floodplains and deltas as fully coupled human-physical systems. Here we propose a novel approach to explore the long-term behavior emerging from the mutual interactions and feedbacks between physical and social systems. The implementation of our modeling framework shows that green societies, which cope with flooding by resettling out of floodplains, are more resilient to increasing flood frequency than technological societies, which deal with flooding by building levees. Also, we show that when coupled dynamics are accounted for, flood-poor periods could (paradoxically) be more dangerous than flood-rich periods.

  12. FDTD-ANT User Manual

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Zimmerman, Martin L.

    1995-01-01

    This manual explains the theory and operation of the finite-difference time domain code FDTD-ANT developed by Analex Corporation at the NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. This code can be used for solving electromagnetic problems that are electrically small or medium (on the order of 1 to 50 cubic wavelengths). Calculated parameters include transmission line impedance, relative effective permittivity, antenna input impedance, and far-field patterns in both the time and frequency domains. The maximum problem size may be adjusted according to the computer used. This code has been run on the DEC VAX and 486 PC's and on workstations such as the Sun Sparc and the IBM RS/6000.

  13. Ant-Based Cyber Security

    SciTech Connect

    Haack, Jereme N.; Fink, Glenn A.; Maiden, Wendy M.; McKinnon, Archibald D.; Templeton, Steven J.; Fulp, Errin W.

    2011-07-12

    We describe a swarming-agent-based, mixed-initiative approach to infrastructure defense where teams of humans and software agents defend cooperating organizations in tandem by sharing insights and solutions without violating proprietary boundaries. The system places human administrators at the appropriate level where they provide system guidance while lower-level agents carry out tasks humans are unable to perform quickly enough to mitigate today’s security threats. Cooperative Infrastructure Defense (CID) uses our ant-based approach to enable dialogue between humans and agents to foster a collaborative problem-solving environment, increase human situational awareness and influence using visualization and shared control. We discuss theoretical implementation characteristics along with results from recent proof-of-concept implementations.

  14. Macrodinychus mites as parasitoids of invasive ants: an overlooked parasitic association.

    PubMed

    Lachaud, Jean-Paul; Klompen, Hans; Pérez-Lachaud, Gabriela

    2016-01-01

    Mites are frequent ant symbionts, yet the exact nature of their interactions with their hosts is poorly known. Generally, myrmecophilous mites show adaptations for dispersal through phoresis, but species that lack such an adaptation may have evolved unusual specialized relationships with their hosts. The immature stages of Macrodinychus multispinosus develop as ectoparasitoids of pupae of the invasive ant Paratrechina longicornis. Feeding stages show regressed locomotor appendages. These mites complete their development on a single host, sucking all of its body content and therefore killing it. Locally high proportions of parasitized host pupae suggest that M. multispinosus could serve as a biological control agent. This is the ninth species of Macrodinychus reported as ant parasite, and the third known as parasitoid of invasive ants, confirming a unique habit in the evolution of mite feeding strategies and suggesting that the entire genus might be parasitic on ants. Several mites' characteristics, such as their protective morphology, possible viviparity, lack of a specialized stage for phoretic dispersal, and low host specificity, combined with both the general low aggressiveness of invasive P. longicornis towards other ants and its possible susceptibility to generalist ectoparasites would account for the host shift in native macrodinychid mites. PMID:27444515

  15. Direct and indirect effects of warming on aphids, their predators, and ant mutualists.

    PubMed

    Barton, Brandon T; Ives, Anthony R

    2014-06-01

    Species exist within communities of other interacting species, so an exogenous force that directly affects one species can indirectly affect all other members of the community. In the case of climate change, many species may be affected directly and subsequently initiate numerous indirect effects that propagate throughout the community. Therefore, the net effect of climate change on any one species is a function of the direct and indirect effects. We investigated the direct and indirect effects of climate warming on corn leaf aphids, a pest of corn and other grasses, by performing an experimental manipulation of temperature, predators, and two common aphid-tending ants. Although warming had a positive direct effect on aphid population growth rate, warming reduced aphid abundance when ants and predators were present. This occurred because winter ants, which aggressively defend aphids from predators under control temperatures, were less aggressive toward predators and less abundant when temperatures were increased. In contrast, warming increased the abundance of cornfield ants, but they did not protect aphids from predators with the same vigor as winter ants. Thus, warming broke down the ant-aphid mutualism and counterintuitively reduced the abundance of this agricultural pest.

  16. Macrodinychus mites as parasitoids of invasive ants: an overlooked parasitic association

    PubMed Central

    Lachaud, Jean-Paul; Klompen, Hans; Pérez-Lachaud, Gabriela

    2016-01-01

    Mites are frequent ant symbionts, yet the exact nature of their interactions with their hosts is poorly known. Generally, myrmecophilous mites show adaptations for dispersal through phoresis, but species that lack such an adaptation may have evolved unusual specialized relationships with their hosts. The immature stages of Macrodinychus multispinosus develop as ectoparasitoids of pupae of the invasive ant Paratrechina longicornis. Feeding stages show regressed locomotor appendages. These mites complete their development on a single host, sucking all of its body content and therefore killing it. Locally high proportions of parasitized host pupae suggest that M. multispinosus could serve as a biological control agent. This is the ninth species of Macrodinychus reported as ant parasite, and the third known as parasitoid of invasive ants, confirming a unique habit in the evolution of mite feeding strategies and suggesting that the entire genus might be parasitic on ants. Several mites’ characteristics, such as their protective morphology, possible viviparity, lack of a specialized stage for phoretic dispersal, and low host specificity, combined with both the general low aggressiveness of invasive P. longicornis towards other ants and its possible susceptibility to generalist ectoparasites would account for the host shift in native macrodinychid mites. PMID:27444515

  17. Olfactory memory established during trophallaxis affects food search behaviour in ants.

    PubMed

    Provecho, Yael; Josens, Roxana

    2009-10-01

    Camponotus mus ants can associate sucrose and odour at the source during successive foraging cycles and use this memory to locate the nectar in the absence of other cues. These ants perform conspicuous trophallactic behaviour during recruitment while foraging for nectar. In this work, we studied whether Camponotus mus ants are able to establish this odour-sucrose association in the social context of trophallaxis and we evaluated this memory in another context previously experienced by the ant, as a nectar source. After a single trophallaxis of a scented solution, the receiver ant was tested in a Y-maze without any reward, where two scents were presented: in one arm, the solution scent and in the other, a new scent. Ants consistently chose the arm with the solution scent and stayed longer therein. Trophallaxis duration had no effect on the arm choice or with the time spent in each arm. Workers are able to associate an odour (conditioned stimulus) with the sucrose (unconditioned stimulus) they receive through a social interaction and use this memory as choice criteria during food searching. PMID:19801426

  18. Social context predicts recognition systems in ant queens.

    PubMed

    Dreier, S; D'Ettorre, P

    2009-03-01

    Recognition of group-members is a key feature of sociality. Ants use chemical communication to discriminate nestmates from intruders, enhancing kin cooperation and preventing parasitism. The recognition code is embedded in their cuticular chemical profile, which typically varies between colonies. We predicted that ants might be capable of accurate recognition in unusual situations when few individuals interact repeatedly, as new colonies started by two to three queens. Individual recognition would be favoured by selection when queens establish dominance hierarchies, because repeated fights for dominance are costly; but it would not evolve in absence of hierarchies. We previously showed that Pachycondyla co-founding queens, which form dominance hierarchies, have accurate individual recognition based on chemical cues. Here, we used the ant Lasius niger to test the null hypothesis that individual recognition does not occur when co-founding queens do not establish dominance hierarchies. Indeed, L. niger queens show a similar level of aggression towards both co-foundresses and intruders, indicating that they are unable of individual recognition, contrary to Pachycondyla. Additionally, the variation in chemical profiles of Lasius and Pachycondyla queens is comparable, thus informational constraints are unlikely to apply. We conclude that selection pressure from the social context is of crucial significance for the sophistication of recognition systems.

  19. Modeling the dynamics of ant colony optimization.

    PubMed

    Merkle, Daniel; Middendorf, Martin

    2002-01-01

    The dynamics of Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) algorithms is studied using a deterministic model that assumes an average expected behavior of the algorithms. The ACO optimization metaheuristic is an iterative approach, where in every iteration, artificial ants construct solutions randomly but guided by pheromone information stemming from former ants that found good solutions. The behavior of ACO algorithms and the ACO model are analyzed for certain types of permutation problems. It is shown analytically that the decisions of an ant are influenced in an intriguing way by the use of the pheromone information and the properties of the pheromone matrix. This explains why ACO algorithms can show a complex dynamic behavior even when there is only one ant per iteration and no competition occurs. The ACO model is used to describe the algorithm behavior as a combination of situations with different degrees of competition between the ants. This helps to better understand the dynamics of the algorithm when there are several ants per iteration as is always the case when using ACO algorithms for optimization. Simulations are done to compare the behavior of the ACO model with the ACO algorithm. Results show that the deterministic model describes essential features of the dynamics of ACO algorithms quite accurately, while other aspects of the algorithms behavior cannot be found in the model. PMID:12227995

  20. Ant navigation: resetting the path integrator.

    PubMed

    Knaden, Markus; Wehner, Rüdiger

    2006-01-01

    Desert ants use path integration as their predominant system of long-distance navigation, but they also make use of route-defining and nest-defining visual landmarks. Such landmark-gained information might override the information provided by the path integrator, but nevertheless the path integrator keeps running. Here we show that only cues that are associated with the ant being inside the nest are able to reset the path integrator to zero state. Ants were captured at a feeder, i.e. without having run off their home vector, and were forced to enter the nest. On their next outbound run their walking direction differed by 180 degrees from that of ants that had also been captured at the feeder but instead of having been forced to enter the interior of the nest were released at its entrance. Whereas these latter ants still ran off their home vector pointing in the feeder-nest direction (and by this departed from the nest in a direction opposite to the feeder direction) the former ants had reset their home vector to zero state, and had therefore been able to reload their learned feeder vector, and consequently departed from the nest in the feeder direction. Owing to its egocentric nature the path-integrator is error prone. Hence, it is a suitable strategy to reset the path integrator if the ant has appeared at its final goal, the nest. Otherwise during consecutive foraging runs navigational errors would steadily increase.

  1. Extensional Rheology of Fire Ant Aggregates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Franklin, Scott; Kern, Matthew; Phonekeo, Sulisay; Hu, David

    We explore the extensional rheology and self-healing of fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) aggregations, mechanically entangled ensembles used to form rafts, bivouacs or bridges. Macroscopic experiments create quasi-two dimensional piles and measure the force required to impose a constant end-velocity. This force fluctuates, reminiscent of similar experiments on geometrically cohesive granular materials. Heterogeneous chains develop, with isolated ants often the sole link between top and bottom. Finally, the maximum pile strength scales sub-linearly with the number of ants, with the maximum force per ant decreasing as the pile grows. We reproduce these behaviors with a simple model that represents ants feet as discs connected by a spring (the ''leg''). Discs move randomly, and stick to one another when in contact. Discs in contact un-stick at random with a probability that decreases as the spring (leg) is stretched, modeling an ant's tendency to hold on longer when stretched. Simulations qualitatively reproduces the fluctuating force, chain formation and sublinear scaling of maximum force with particle number and give insight into underlying mechanisms that govern the ants' behaviors. Funded in part by NSF DMR #1133722.

  2. Variation in butterfly larval acoustics as a strategy to infiltrate and exploit host ant colony resources.

    PubMed

    Sala, Marco; Casacci, Luca Pietro; Balletto, Emilio; Bonelli, Simona; Barbero, Francesca

    2014-01-01

    About 10,000 arthropods live as ants' social parasites and have evolved a number of mechanisms allowing them to penetrate and survive inside the ant nests. Many of them can intercept and manipulate their host communication systems. This is particularly important for butterflies of the genus Maculinea, which spend the majority of their lifecycle inside Myrmica ant nests. Once in the colony, caterpillars of Maculinea "predatory species" directly feed on the ant larvae, while those of "cuckoo species" are fed primarily by attendance workers, by trophallaxis. It has been shown that Maculinea cuckoo larvae are able to reach a higher social status within the colony's hierarchy by mimicking the acoustic signals of their host queen ants. In this research we tested if, when and how myrmecophilous butterflies may change sound emissions depending on their integration level and on stages of their life cycle. We studied how a Maculinea predatory species (M. teleius) can acoustically interact with their host ants and highlighted differences with respect to a cuckoo species (M. alcon). We recorded sounds emitted by Maculinea larvae as well as by their Myrmica hosts, and performed playback experiments to assess the parasites' capacity to interfere with the host acoustic communication system. We found that, although varying between and within butterfly species, the larval acoustic emissions are more similar to queens' than to workers' stridulations. Nevertheless playback experiments showed that ant workers responded most strongly to the sounds emitted by the integrated (i.e. post-adoption) larvae of the cuckoo species, as well as by those of predatory species recorded before any contact with the host ants (i.e. in pre-adoption), thereby revealing the role of acoustic signals both in parasite integration and in adoption rituals. We discuss our findings in the broader context of parasite adaptations, comparing effects of acoustical and chemical mimicry. PMID:24718496

  3. Caterpillars and fungal pathogens: two co-occurring parasites of an ant-plant mutualism.

    PubMed

    Roux, Olivier; Céréghino, Régis; Solano, Pascal J; Dejean, Alain

    2011-01-01

    In mutualisms, each interacting species obtains resources from its partner that it would obtain less efficiently if alone, and so derives a net fitness benefit. In exchange for shelter (domatia) and food, mutualistic plant-ants protect their host myrmecophytes from herbivores, encroaching vines and fungal pathogens. Although selective filters enable myrmecophytes to host those ant species most favorable to their fitness, some insects can by-pass these filters, exploiting the rewards supplied whilst providing nothing in return. This is the case in French Guiana for Cecropia obtusa (Cecropiaceae) as Pseudocabima guianalis caterpillars (Lepidoptera, Pyralidae) can colonize saplings before the installation of their mutualistic Azteca ants. The caterpillars shelter in the domatia and feed on food bodies (FBs) whose production increases as a result. They delay colonization by ants by weaving a silk shield above the youngest trichilium, where the FBs are produced, blocking access to them. This probable temporal priority effect also allows female moths to lay new eggs on trees that already shelter caterpillars, and so to occupy the niche longer and exploit Cecropia resources before colonization by ants. However, once incipient ant colonies are able to develop, they prevent further colonization by the caterpillars. Although no higher herbivory rates were noted, these caterpillars are ineffective in protecting their host trees from a pathogenic fungus, Fusarium moniliforme (Deuteromycetes), that develops on the trichilium in the absence of mutualistic ants. Therefore, the Cecropia treelets can be parasitized by two often overlooked species: the caterpillars that shelter in the domatia and feed on FBs, d