Latitudinal variation in behaviors linked to risk tolerance is driven by nest-site competition and spatial distribution in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus

S. E. Bengston, Anna Dornhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Geographic range has long been noted to be associated with many organismic and ecological traits such as body size and species richness. However, much less is known about whether and how ecological variation across latitudinal gradients reflects behavioral variation. Ant colonies may also show behavioral variation, and Temnothorax rugatulus show a colony-level behavioral syndrome that seems to reflect risk tolerance across their North American range. While it is presumed that this pattern is the result of adaptation to local environmental conditions, which ecological factors are driving this variation are unknown. Here, we test if colony risk tolerance is affected by competition, predation, resource availability, or environmental stress at each site. Our results show that increased competition, specifically for nest sites, as well as increased spatial clustering of colonies predicts higher risk tolerance. Additionally, the spatial clustering of colonies influences the structure of the risk-taking syndrome, i.e., which colony-level behaviors are correlated and how strongly. This emphasizes the need for understanding large-scale geographic variation in behavior, as it may explain how ecological factors drive the evolution and maintenance of intraspecific behavioral variation across populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1265-1274
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume69
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Fingerprint

Temnothorax
nest site
nesting sites
ant
Formicidae
tolerance
spatial distribution
geographical variation
body size
latitudinal gradient
predation
resource availability
environmental stress
species diversity
environmental factors
species richness
environmental conditions
testing

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Behavioral syndrome
  • Environmental effects
  • Foraging behavior
  • Local adaptation
  • Social insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

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abstract = "Geographic range has long been noted to be associated with many organismic and ecological traits such as body size and species richness. However, much less is known about whether and how ecological variation across latitudinal gradients reflects behavioral variation. Ant colonies may also show behavioral variation, and Temnothorax rugatulus show a colony-level behavioral syndrome that seems to reflect risk tolerance across their North American range. While it is presumed that this pattern is the result of adaptation to local environmental conditions, which ecological factors are driving this variation are unknown. Here, we test if colony risk tolerance is affected by competition, predation, resource availability, or environmental stress at each site. Our results show that increased competition, specifically for nest sites, as well as increased spatial clustering of colonies predicts higher risk tolerance. Additionally, the spatial clustering of colonies influences the structure of the risk-taking syndrome, i.e., which colony-level behaviors are correlated and how strongly. This emphasizes the need for understanding large-scale geographic variation in behavior, as it may explain how ecological factors drive the evolution and maintenance of intraspecific behavioral variation across populations.",
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