Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New data on ant adaptability within their environment

23.03.2004


By examining the worker castes in colonies of the ant, Pheidole morrisi, researchers have found new evidence that ants alter the organization of their colonies in different environments. Researchers Andrew Yang and colleagues from Duke University compared populations of P. morrisi in Florida, North Carolina and New York, and uncovered evidence supporting the idea that some insects adapt to their environment by adjusting body size and the relative proportion of different castes within their population.



Over the past 30 years, theoretical work on social organization has generated a number of predictions about how the colonies of eusocial insects, like ants and bees, could adapt to different environments. Many ants have morphologically distinct "castes," such as workers and soldiers, that specialize in different tasks within the colony. One long-standing prediction is that the optimal proportion of these castes in a colony should vary as conditions in nature vary. To date, the only evidence that ant colonies can exhibit any flexibility in the relative numbers of workers and soldiers has been from studies that measure the response to short-term environmental change that occurs within the normal life cycle of a colony.

In the new work, Yang and colleagues headed to the field to explore the question of whether caste structure can undergo similar changes on much larger spatial and temporal scale. The researchers found that the proportion of castes, as well as the ants’ body sizes, differed between populations of P. morrisi in three geographically distinct sites in the eastern United States. The differing population characteristics persisted when the ants were brought into the laboratory environment, suggesting that the differences between the populations reflects evolutionary divergence. Moreover, behavioral experiments – so-called "laboratory contests" between P. morrisi and a competitor species, the fire ant Solenopsis invicta – demonstrated that members of the soldier caste play an important role in colony defense. This role for soldiers, in combination with geographic differences in competitors, may explain the variation in the proportions of castes found between populations.


Andrew S. Yang, Christopher H. Martin, and H. Frederik Nijhout: "Geographic Variation of Caste Structure among Ant Populations"


Published in Current Biology, Volume 14, Number 6, 23 March 2003.

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cell.com/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>