Matching Items (24)

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Ants as a Model for Animal Communication: A Study of Ant Cuticular Hydrocarbons

Description

Across the animal kingdom, communication serves a vital purpose. The transfer of information between and among species is often paramount to many behaviors including mating, collaboration, and defense. While research has provided tremendous insight into animal communication and interaction, there

Across the animal kingdom, communication serves a vital purpose. The transfer of information between and among species is often paramount to many behaviors including mating, collaboration, and defense. While research has provided tremendous insight into animal communication and interaction, there is still much that we have yet to understand. Due to their reliance on interactions that maximize efficiency within their complicated colony structure and array of member roles, eusocial insects serve as an excellent model for animal communication. Among eusocial insects, ants are some of the most heavily researched, with a tremendous amount of literature focused on their cuticular hydrocarbons. Along with serving as a waterproofing agent, cuticular hydrocarbons also play a major role in recognition and communication in these insects. By studying the importance of hydrocarbons in ant social structure, their tremendously specialized olfactory system, and the use of learning assays in its study, parallels between communication in ants and other animals are revealed, demonstrating how ants serve as a relevant model for animal communication as a whole.

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2020-12

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Quantifying Cost Savings of Pleometrosis and Haplometrosis: Excavation Labor of the Seed-HArvester Ant Pogonomyrmex californicus

Description

Studies of cooperation remain an important aspect in understanding the evolution of social cues and interactions. One example of cooperation is pleometrosis, an associative behavior of forming a colony with two unrelated, fertile queens. However, most ant species display haplometrosis,

Studies of cooperation remain an important aspect in understanding the evolution of social cues and interactions. One example of cooperation is pleometrosis, an associative behavior of forming a colony with two unrelated, fertile queens. However, most ant species display haplometrosis, the founding of a colony by a single queen. In these associations, the queen typically rejects cooperation. In populations of Pogonomyrmex californicus, both pleometrosis and haplometrosis exists. It is not clear how associative -metrosis became a practiced behavior since haplometrotic queens tend to fight. However, as fighting in pleometrotic queens became less frequent, this induces benefit, in terms of cost savings, in having associative behaviors. The hypothesis tested was nest excavation of pleometrotic queens show sociality, while haplometrotic queens show association independence. Isolated pleometrotic queens (P) showed low excavation rate at 2.72cm2/day, compared to the rate when the task was shared in (PP) nests, 4.57cm2/day. Nest area of the (P) queens were also affected during days 3 and 4 of the experiment, where there was presence of nest area decrease. Furthermore, the excavation session of (P) was the only one determined as significant between all other nests. Although the (P) queens have low values, they eventually reach a similar point as the other nests by day 6. However, the lack of haste in excavation leads to longer exposure to the elements, substituting the risk of losing cuticles in excavation for the risk of predation. For the haplometrotic queens, nests of (H) and (HH) displayed no significant difference in excavation values, leading to having social effect in their association.

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2019-05

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Worker Policing Mechanisms in Ponerine Ant Species

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For colonies of ponerine ant species, sterility regulation after a founding queen's death is not totally achieved in the worker caste, and the possibility of sexual reproduction is opened to workers. The persisting survival of these colonies is dependent on

For colonies of ponerine ant species, sterility regulation after a founding queen's death is not totally achieved in the worker caste, and the possibility of sexual reproduction is opened to workers. The persisting survival of these colonies is dependent on capturing the optimal reproductive ratio; yet, an informational gap bounds the mechanisms detailing the selection of new reproductives and the suppression of ovarian development in rejected reproductives. We investigated the mechanisms of worker policing, one of the primary methods of ovarian suppression, through continuous video observation for a period of five days at the start of colony instability. Observations suggest policing in H. saltator is performed by a majority of a colony, including potential reproductives, and requires multiple events to fully discourage ovarian growth.

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2018-12

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Adaptation of Camponotus floridanus’ Cuticular Hydrocarbon Profile under High Temperature Conditions

Description

Insects are small creatures highly susceptible to water loss. A major factor in the prevention of water loss through an insect’s cuticle are their cuticular hydrocarbons (CHC), a lipid layer consisting mostly of long-chain hydrocarbons. CHCs consist of different molecules

Insects are small creatures highly susceptible to water loss. A major factor in the prevention of water loss through an insect’s cuticle are their cuticular hydrocarbons (CHC), a lipid layer consisting mostly of long-chain hydrocarbons. CHCs consist of different molecules called alkanes, alkenes, and methyl branched hydrocarbons which all have varying levels of hydrophobicity. Ants are a massively abundant family of insects with important roles in the ecosystem that also utilize CHCs. Camponotus floridanus isare athe native ant species of the Florida Keys which areis known to have variable environmental temperature. Being exposed to temperatures as high as 35 °C, these ants are expected to have mechanisms that allow them to adapt to their environment. It was hypothesized that CHCs may change in concentration or composition as a means to combat the changes in cuticular permeability due to the variable temperatures that the ants experience. We therefore used C. floridanus worker ants to learn more about CHC plasticity in insects when exposed to elevated temperatures. We found four CHC componentspeaks that showed a statistically significant increase in concentration when comparing the control to treatment colonies: 3,7 dimethyl C31, an underdetermined methyl branched C31, 3,7,11 trimethyl C31, and an undetermined tetramethylbranched C31. These significant changes in concentration occurred on longer chain hydrocarbons. Under further examination, it was found that there was a strong positive correlation between elution time and the differences in medians of peak area between control and treatment colonies. This shows that there was a shift in the CHC profile resulting in an increased concentration of longer chained methyl-branched hydrocarbons. It also suggests that branched hydrocarbons also play some role in the water proofing mechanism of C. floridanus.

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2020-05

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Analysis of Egg-Laying Rates of Harpegnathos Saltator Through Different Methods of Observation

Description

Insects have intricate systems they depend on for survival. They live in societies where every individual plays an important role. Ants are a great example of this observation. They are known for having structurally sound societies that ensure the livelihood

Insects have intricate systems they depend on for survival. They live in societies where every individual plays an important role. Ants are a great example of this observation. They are known for having structurally sound societies that ensure the livelihood of the colony. The ant species analyzed for this research, Harpegnathos saltator, portrays a structured colony and serves as a useful example of levels of hierarchy. In the colony of H. saltator, one can find a queen, gamergates, workers, and male ants living underground in Southern India. Recording and analyzing egg-laying rates are important in this study because of the amount of information it provides. It is used especially when observing the relationship among the gamergates in colonies with varying colony sizes. Three different methods were used to record the egg-laying rates, each providing insight into valuable information. Results show that the smaller colonies with fewer identified gamergates do share an equal amount of egg-laying. In larger colonies, it appears that there are more active identified gamergates than others. Egg-laying duration times are smaller in colonies with fewer gamergates. It is also found that the presence of brood does not affect egg-laying rates and reproductive inhibition could be a possibility based on two of the colonies observed F65 and F21. Based on the data found, a more active colony that attempts to maintain stability by demonstrating aggression may be affecting the reproduction of gamergates. Future work that would further strengthen the research and conclusions made would involve further observation of colonies, both large and small, with varying numbers of gamergates. More observation involving behavior among gamergates and workers would also be beneficial. Mathematical modeling could also be incorporated to create equations that could determine information about colonies based on size, number of gamergates, and egg-laying rates.

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2017-12

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The analysis of reverse tandem running of Temnothorax rugatulus colonies

Description

Collective decision making in social organism societies involves a large network of communication systems. Studying the processes behind the transmission of information allows for greater understanding of the decision making capabilities of a group. For Temnothorax rugatulus colonies, information is

Collective decision making in social organism societies involves a large network of communication systems. Studying the processes behind the transmission of information allows for greater understanding of the decision making capabilities of a group. For Temnothorax rugatulus colonies, information is commonly spread in the form of tandem running, a linear recruitment pattern where a leading ant uses a short-ranged pheromone to direct a following ant to a target location (in tandem).The observed phenomenon of reverse tandem running (RTR), where a follower is lead from a target back to the home nest, has not been as extensively studied as forward tandem running and transportation recruitment activities. This study seeks to explain a potential reason for the presence of the RTR behavior; more specifically, the study explores the idea that reverse tandem run followers are being shown a specific route to the home nest by a highly experienced and efficient leading ant. Ten colonies had migrations induced experimentally in order to generate some reverse tandem running activity. Once an RTR has been observed, the follower and leader were studied for behavior and their pathways were analyzed. It was seen that while RTR paths were quite efficient (1.4x a straight line distance), followers did not experience a statistically significant improvement in their pathways between the home and target nests (based on total distance traveled) when compared to similar non-RTR ants. Further, RTR leading ants were no more efficient than other non-RTR ants. It was observed that some followers began recruiting after completion of an RTR, but the number than changed their behavior was not significant. Thus, the results of this experiment cannot conclusively show that RTR followers are utilizing reverse tandem runs to improve their routes between the home and target nests.

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2014-12

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Variation in Growth Rate of Colonies with Differing Queen Systems in the Ant Species Pogonomyrmex californicus

Description

I tested the hypothesis that in mature colonies of the seed harvester Pogonomyrmex californicus ant species, paired pleometrotic queens would produce workers more efficiently after a massive removal of their work force than haplometrotic queens, paired pleometrotic with haplometrotic queens,

I tested the hypothesis that in mature colonies of the seed harvester Pogonomyrmex californicus ant species, paired pleometrotic queens would produce workers more efficiently after a massive removal of their work force than haplometrotic queens, paired pleometrotic with haplometrotic queens, and single pleometrotic queens. I suggested that the paired pleometrotic queens would have an advantage of cooperating together in reproducing more workers quicker than the other conditions to make up for the lost workers. This would demonstrate a benefit that pleometrosis has over haplometrosis for mature colonies, which would explain why pleometrosis continues for P.californicus after colony foundation. After removing all but twenty workers for every colony, I took pictures and counted the emerging brood for 52 days. Analyses showed that the paired pleometrotic queens and the haplometrotic queens both grew at an equally efficient rate and the paired pleometrotic and haplometrotic queens growing the least efficiently. However, the results were not significant and did not support the hypothesis that paired pleometrotic queens recover from worker loss more proficiently than other social systems.

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2014-05

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Mathematical Modeling of Foundress Associations in Social Insects in Order to Understand Aggression in Cooperative Social Systems

Description

This project aims to better understand aggression in a cooperative social system, specifically within the ant species Pogonomyrmex Californicus. The queens of some populations of these ants form cooperative associations of unrelated queens during nest foundation, while others prefer to

This project aims to better understand aggression in a cooperative social system, specifically within the ant species Pogonomyrmex Californicus. The queens of some populations of these ants form cooperative associations of unrelated queens during nest foundation, while others prefer to form solitary nests and may show aggression towards unwanted nest mates. Because it is difficult to collect large amounts of data from a wild population and laboratory environments cannot capture the scale of nature, we created a computer simulation based on data collected in the lab and the field that emulates the life cycle of this species of ants. By manipulating behavioral and environmental conditions and observing the results we were able to better understand the advantages and disadvantages of showing aggression in this cooperative social system.

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2016-05

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Mechanisms for quorum sensing in Temnothorax

Description

Temnothorax ants are a model species for studying collective decision-making. When presented with multiple nest sites, they are able to collectively select the best one and move the colony there. When a scout encounters a nest site, she will spend

Temnothorax ants are a model species for studying collective decision-making. When presented with multiple nest sites, they are able to collectively select the best one and move the colony there. When a scout encounters a nest site, she will spend some time exploring it. In theory she should explore the site for long enough to determine both its quality and an estimate of the number of ants there. This ensures that she selects a good nest site and that there are enough scouts who know about the new nest site to aid her in relocating the colony. It also helps to ensure that the colony reaches a consensus rather than dividing between nest sites. When a nest site reaches a certain threshold of ants, a quorum has been reached and the colony is committed to that nest site. If a scout visits a good nest site where a quorum has not been reached, she will lead a tandem run to bring another scout there so that they can learn the way and later aid in recruitment. At a site where a quorum has been reached, scouts will instead perform transports to carry ants and brood there from the old nest. One piece that is missing in all of this is the mechanism. How is a quorum sensed? One hypothesis is that the encounter rate (average number of encounters with nest mates per second) that an ant experiences at a nest site allows her to estimate the population at that site and determine whether a quorum has been reached. In this study, encounter rate and entrance time were both shown to play a role in whether an ant decided to lead a tandem run or perform a transport. Encounter rate was shown to have a significant impact on how much time an ant spent at a nest site before making her decision, and encounter rates significantly increased as migrations progressed. It was also shown to individual ants did not differ from each other in their encounter rates, visit lengths, or entrance times preceding their first transports or tandem runs, studied across four different migrations. Ants were found to spend longer on certain types of encounters, but excluding certain types of encounters from the encounter rate was not found to change the correlations that were observed. It was also found that as the colony performed more migrations, it became significantly faster at moving to the new nest.

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2013-05

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What’s All the Yakking About? Discovering if Ectatomma ruidum uses trophallaxis

Description

When ants encounter liquid food, they have two options of transporting that food to their nests. The first is the social bucket method in which liquid is carried in the mandibles of the workers back to the nest. The second

When ants encounter liquid food, they have two options of transporting that food to their nests. The first is the social bucket method in which liquid is carried in the mandibles of the workers back to the nest. The second is trophallaxis in which liquid is imbibed and then transported inside the ant back to the nest. The liquid is then regurgitated to fellow nestmates. Ectatomma have been observed using the social bucket method of transport and were considered members of the Ponerine family. However, a new phylogeny created by Borowiec and Rabeling places Ectatomma near to Formecinae and Myrmicinae, both know for practicing trophallaxis. This seems to suggest either Ectatomma is able to utilize trophallaxis as well or that the evolutionary practice of trophallaxis is more plastic than previously believed. The ability of Ectatomma ruidum to utilize trophallaxis was examined in two experiments. The first experiment examined E. ruidum’s ability to practice worker to worker trophallaxis and the second examined E. ruidum’s ability to perform worker to larva trophallaxis. The results of both experiments indicated that E. ruidum cannot utilize trophallaxis but the larva of E. ruidum may be able to regurgitate to the workers. These results in turn seem to suggest that trophallaxis is a bit more plastic than originally thought.

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Date Created
2019-05