The Behavioural Ecology of Ants by John H. Sudd

By John H. Sudd

This ebook is worried with difficulties: how eusociality, within which one person forgoes replica to augment the replica of a nestmate, may possibly evolve below usual choice, and why it's discovered simply in a few insects-termites, ants and a few bees and wasps. even if eusociality is seemingly restrained to bugs, it has advanced a few occasions in one order of bugs, the Hymenoptera. W. Hamilton's speculation, that the weird haplodiploid mechanism of intercourse choice within the Hymenoptera singled this order out, nonetheless turns out to have nice explanatory strength within the research of social ants. We think that the path, certainly confinement, of social altruism to shut family is the mainspring of social lifestyles in an ant colony, and the choice explanatory schemes of, for instance, parental manipu­ lation, may still rightly be visible to function inside of a process in response to the selective aid of family members. to manage the circulation of assets inside of their colony all its contributors inn to manipulations in their nestmates: parental manipulation of offspring is just one side of a posh net of manipul­ ation, exploitation and pageant for assets in the colony. The political intrigues expand open air the limits of the colony, to bugs and crops that have mutualistic kinfolk with ants. In eusociality a few contributors (sterile staff) don't move their genes to a brand new iteration at once. as an alternative, they generally tend the offspring of a detailed relation (in the easiest case their mother).

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A species may be hypogaeic both in its nesting and in its foraging (like many species of Dorylus and some Aenictus) THE PHYLOGENY OF ANTS 33 and this is probably the primitive condition. Others, like Anomma, forage above ground from a hypogaeic nest. Yet others, like the Eciton species which were studied earliest, both nest and forage above ground. The males are also rather curious, and were not at first recognized as belonging to the same species. Their biology is not well known, but they seem to seek out raiding columns and return with them to the nest to mate with the less mobile queens.

For example, the amounts offood that workers bring in and use themselves or feed to larvae were represented by equations whose numerical parameters were estimated by observations and measurements on colonies in the field and laboratory. In this way a numerical model colony was set up, and run to investigate at what size colonies should switch to producing sexual offspring to maximize their inclusive fitness. According to the model the colony grows logistically and then passes into a period of stability or convergent oscillations (for example, large numbers of sexuals are produced by colonies only in alternate years).

Their dependence on fungi to process this plant material is not unique, and can be compared with the situation of the higher termites or of the ruminants. The leafcutting species Atta and Acromyrmex are remarkable for the wide range of plants from which they remove leaves. They take young leaves of almost any tree in their area, usually concentrating on one or a few genera at any time, but switching to others as that source becomes exhausted or too mature. This has led to the suggestion that attines are able to evade the chemical defences of plants by relying on the ability of their fungi to adapt to changes in the substrate and to produce a uniform feedstock for the colony.

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