November 30, 2021


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When ant colonies get bigger, new foraging behavior emerges

Credit history: CC0 Public Area

Millions of army ants from time to time stream out of their nest in a coordinated searching swarm, in search of prey to devour. How this incredible mass raiding conduct progressed has prolonged been a thriller, right until now.

In a study revealed in the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, Rockefeller’s Daniel Kronauer, alongside one another with graduate pupil Vikram Chandra and postdoctoral affiliate Asaf Gal, establish that mass raiding initially emerged from a equivalent sort of organized looking conducted by ant colonies, acknowledged as team raiding.

Group raiding is a foraging technique practiced by ant species, these types of as clonal raider ants, which stay in much scaled-down colonies than army ants. As the earlier mentioned video shows, personal clonal raider ants leave the nest to scout for prey. Upon discovering some grub, a scout heads again to the nest, leaving a path of pheromones guiding that its fellow ants can adhere to to the feast. The investigate workforce questioned whether or not army ants were being subsequent related patterns, albeit on a larger scale, when mustering for their ravenous mass raids.

In order to remedy that dilemma, the researchers centered on clonal raider ants, which are much easier to study in the lab than army ants. By growing the dimension of raider ant colonies little bit by little bit, they were being equipped to observe how the ants’ team raids began to gradually resemble that of army ants’ mass raids. That observation, coupled with analyzing the evolutionary interactions amongst species, led them to conclude that army ant mass raiding likely advanced from scout-initiated team raiding more than tens of millions of yrs in live performance with the tremendous improves in colony measurement.

An ant scout leaves a trail of pheromones so his nestmates can conveniently come across their way to the feast. Credit rating: Rockefeller University

“This work is a wonderful insight into how collective behaviors evolve,” suggests Kronauer. “Extra usually it displays that you don’t have to alter an individuals’ neural circuitry to encode a new behavior—collective behaviors can evolve from uncomplicated scaling effects.”

How army ants’ legendary mass raids developed

Much more info:
Vikram Chandra et al, Colony expansions underlie the evolution of military ant mass raiding, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2026534118

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Rockefeller College

When ant colonies get bigger, new foraging actions emerges (2021, August 3)
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