Know thine enemy: why some weaver ants do but others do not

Newey, Philip S., Robson, Simon K.A., and Crozier, Ross H. (2010) Know thine enemy: why some weaver ants do but others do not. Behavioral Ecology, 21 (2). pp. 381-386.

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Recognition systems involve 3 components: an expression component, a perception component, and an action or response component. Disentangling the perception component from the action component can be difficult, as the absence of a discriminatory response may result from either a difference in perception or action. Social insects generally defend their colony against intruding conspecifics and provide a useful model for exploring recognition systems. However, whether differences in behavior at the colony or individual level result from the perception or action component of the recognition system is largely unknown. Furthermore, variation at the individual level has remained largely unexplored because research on social insects often focuses on the colony rather than on the individual. Using some novel behavioral bioassays, we here show that variation in the aggressive behavior of individual weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina L.) arises more from the identity of the recipient than of the intruder and, contrary to previous findings, that this often results from perceptual differences. We suggest that recognition in weaver ants may involve a template based on the individual’s odor prior to intermingling with other odors rather than on a common odor. We also argue that a common odor might be more important for the survival of the colony than a shared template. Conversely, possessing a range of templates may provide a colony with additional fitness benefits. By focusing on the differences among individual workers within colonies, this study reveals complexities in nest mate recognition that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Item ID: 16833
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1465-7279
Keywords: colony odor, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, recognition systems, social insects
Date Deposited: 10 May 2011 09:29
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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