Matching Items (18)

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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

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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Date Created
  • 2014-12

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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

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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Date Created
  • 2017-12

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Worker Policing Mechanisms in Ponerine Ant Species

Description

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

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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Date Created
  • 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

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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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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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.

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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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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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

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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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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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

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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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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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

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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Date Created
  • 2020-12

The Individual Contribution to Cooperative Transport in the ant Novomessor albisetosus

Description

The desert ant, Novomessor albisetosus, is an ideal model system for studying collective transport in ants and self-organized cooperation in natural systems. Small teams collect and stabilize around objects encountered

The desert ant, Novomessor albisetosus, is an ideal model system for studying collective transport in ants and self-organized cooperation in natural systems. Small teams collect and stabilize around objects encountered by these colonies in the field, and the teams carry them in straight paths at a regulated velocity back to nearby nest entrances. The puzzling finding that teams are slower than individuals contrasts other cases of cooperative transport in ants. The statistical distribution of speeds has been found to be consistent with the slowest-ant model, but the key assumption that individual ants consistently vary in speed has not been tested. To test this, information is needed about the natural distribution of individual ant speeds in colonies and whether some ants are intrinsically slow or fast. To investigate the natural, individual-level variation in ants carrying loads, data were collected on single workers carrying fig seeds in arenas separated from other workers. Using three separate, small arenas, the instantaneous speed of each seed-laden worker was recorded when she picked up a fig seed and transported within the arena. Instantaneous speeds were measured by dividing the distance traveled in each frame by how much time had passed.
There were nine ants who transported a fig seed numerous times and there was a clear variation in their average instantaneous speed. Within an ant, slightly varying speeds were found as well, but within-ant speeds were not as varied as speed across ants. These results support the conclusion that there is intrinsic variation in the speed of an individual which supports the slowest-ant model, but this may require further experimentation to test thoroughly. This information aids in the understanding of the natural variation of ants cooperatively carrying larger loads in groups.

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  • 2020-12

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The Effect of Migration Disturbances on the Reverse Tandem Runs of Temnothorax rugatulus

Description

Temnothorax rugatulus ants are known to recruit via the use of tandem running, a typically two ant interaction in which a leader ant guides a follower ant to a particular

Temnothorax rugatulus ants are known to recruit via the use of tandem running, a typically two ant interaction in which a leader ant guides a follower ant to a particular location with the intent of teaching the follower ant the knowledge required to navigate to said location independently. In general, the purposes of tandem runs are fairly clear. There are tandem runs towards food in order to recruit gatherers, and there are tandem runs towards potential new nest sites to allow the colony to assess site quality. However, a group of tandem runs known as “reverse tandem runs” are a subject of mystery at this time. Reverse tandem runs are a type of tandem run found mainly during specific spans of Temnothorax colony migration. They typically arise during the period of migration when brood are being transported into a new nest site. The carriers of the brood, when returning to the old nest site to gather more brood, occasionally start tandem runs running backwards towards the old nest. In this study, the effect of navigational and physical obstacles encountered during migrations on the number of reverse tandem runs was tested. The hypothesis being that such a disturbance would cause an increase in reverse tandem runs as a method of overcoming the obstacle. This study was completed over the course of two experiments. This first experiment showed no indication of the ants having any trouble with the applied disturbance, and a second experiment with a larger challenge for the migrating ants was performed. The results of this second experiment showed that a migration obstacle will lead to an increase in migration time as well as an increase in the number of failed reverse tandem runs (reverse tandem runs that started but never reached the old nest). However, it was shown that the number of complete reverse tandem runs (reverse tandem runs that reached the old nest) remained the same whether the obstacle was introduced or not.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05