Ants use pheromone markings in emigrations to move closer to food-rich areas

T. T. Cao, Anna Dornhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nest site quality can affect survival and reproduction, and thus many animals have evolved behaviors which facilitate nest site assessment and selection. Ants of the genus Temnothorax have been shown to include an array of nest site attributes when choosing such a site. Here, we show that they also include traits of the habitat surrounding nest sites. In particular, we found that during emigration, ants preferred to move to nests located close to a previously explored food-rich area. We also determined that scent markings played a role in this choice and that scouts and transporting ants may have tracked scent marks laid in foraging, and this behavior could have biased emigration toward nests located near previously foraged areas. These results indicate that pheromones play a bigger role in Temnothorax foraging and decision making in emigration than previously thought. Overall, this work provides new insights into the mechanisms involved in habitat selection in ants and contributes to our understanding of collective behavior in social insects in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Volume59
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Fingerprint

nest site
emigration
pheromone
nesting sites
pheromones
ant
Formicidae
Temnothorax
food
nest
nests
foraging
scent marking
group behavior
social insect
social insects
habitat preferences
habitat selection
decision making
odors

Keywords

  • Ants
  • Colony emigration
  • Food location
  • Nest choice
  • Pheromone
  • Temnothorax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Ants use pheromone markings in emigrations to move closer to food-rich areas. / Cao, T. T.; Dornhaus, Anna.

In: Insectes Sociaux, Vol. 59, No. 1, 02.2012, p. 87-92.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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