Matching Items (11)

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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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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014-12

Reproductive Cheating in Harvester Ants - An Agent Based Model

Description

Pogonomyrmex californicus (a species of harvester ant) colonies typically have anywhere from one to five queens. A queen can control the ratio of female to male offspring she produces, field

Pogonomyrmex californicus (a species of harvester ant) colonies typically have anywhere from one to five queens. A queen can control the ratio of female to male offspring she produces, field research indicating that this ratio is genetically hardwired and does not change over time relative to other queens. Further, a queen has an individual reproductive advantage if she has a small reproductive ratio. A colony, however, has a reproductive advantage if it has queens with large ratios, as these queens produce many female workers to further colony success. We have developed an agent-based model to analyze the "cheating" phenotype observed in field research, in which queens extend their lifespans by producing disproportionately many male offspring. The model generates phenotypes and simulates years of reproductive cycles. The results allow us to examine the surviving phenotypes and determine conditions under which a cheating phenotype has an evolutionary advantage. Conditions generating a bimodal steady state solution would indicate a cheating phenotype's ability to invade a cooperative population.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-05

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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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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018-12

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Mechanisms of Emigration During Ant Inter-Colony Conflict

Description

Much like neighboring nations, living in close proximity can often lead to conflict over limited resources for social insect colonies. As with warring nations, conflicts among insect societies can also

Much like neighboring nations, living in close proximity can often lead to conflict over limited resources for social insect colonies. As with warring nations, conflicts among insect societies can also result in one colony attempting to invade the other. Though emigrations are common and well understood in social insects, the process of emigration in the context of conflict is not known. During emigrations of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus, colonies first employ the use of scouts, who search for new nest locations. These scouts then recruit naïve workers to these nests resulting in a ‘voting’ process through which colonies can collectively choose the best nest site. Once the decision is made, the selected nest is rapidly populated by workers who physically carry the queen(s), brood, and remaining naïve ants to the new nest. Invasions occurring during inter-colony conflicts bear a striking resemblance to this process. The state of the final nest suggested merged colonies, and statistical models were used to test for the likelihood of this. Here we test whether colonies of T. rugatulus use the same mechanisms during invasions as those used in emigrations by observing conflicts between colonies of T. rugatulus ants and tracking instances of scouting and recruitment, transport and changes in populations in each nest. Our results support the predicted order of behaviors starting with scouting, followed by recruitment and transport last. In addition, presence of the quorum rule, which determines the switch from recruitment to transport, is confirmed. Furthermore, evidence showed that the colonies were merged at the time of transport. While ant emigration patterns are well understood, there is a gap in understanding conflict driven emigrations/invasions. Our results serve to better understand conflict in social insects by further understanding the mechanisms used during conflicts.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Modeling the Task Performance Dynamics of Social Insects

Description

Division of Labor among social insects is frequently discussed in regards to the colony's worker population. However, before a colony achieves a worker population, a queen is required to perform

Division of Labor among social insects is frequently discussed in regards to the colony's worker population. However, before a colony achieves a worker population, a queen is required to perform all of the tasks necessary for her survival: foraging, building the colony, and brood care. A simple ODE model was developed through the use of a framework of replicator equations in dynamical environments to investigate how queen ants perform and distribute all of the tasks necessary for her and her colony's survival by incorporating individual internal thresholds and environmental stimulus. Modi�cations to the internal threshold, risk of performing the task, and the rate of increase of the environmental stimulus were also explored. Because of the simplicity of the model, it could also be used to measure the task performance of larger populations of social insects. However, the model has only been applied to the data collected from Pogonomyrmex barbatus single queen ants.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Experience-determined seed preference in Pogonomyrmex californicus

Description

In our exponentially expanding world, the knowledge of a group versus that of an individual is more relevant than ever. Social insects have evolved to rely on the information

In our exponentially expanding world, the knowledge of a group versus that of an individual is more relevant than ever. Social insects have evolved to rely on the information from the collective, and in the case of harvester ants, their choice revolves around the best seeds to collect.
The objective of this experiment is to study a colony’s seed preference following previous exposure to a seed type in the seed harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. It was hypothesized that foragers would demonstrate a measurable preference for the seed type they had previously experienced over the novel seed type. The cuticular hydrocarbon profile is suspected to be an influence in the foragers’ seed selection. Following an incubation period with the designated seed type, a series of preference trials were conducted over the course of two days for two experiments in which each colony fragment was given a seed pile with a 1:1 ratio of niger and sesame, after which any seeds moved off the seed pile were determined to be chosen, as well as if the workers were observed moving the seeds off the pile from the video recordings. Using video recordings, the seed selections of individual foragers were also tracked. The results partially support the hypothesis, however, in some cases, the ants did not collect enough seeds for the preference to be significant, and not all colony fragments had preferences that lined up with what they had previously experienced according to their treatment. Familiarity with the hydrocarbon profile of the seed type the colony had experienced is a possible proximal explanation for why colonies had seed preferences that aligned with their treatment, the seed they were designated to experience. Due to the low quantity of seeds collected during preference trials, seed preference amongst individual foragers remains unclear due to many different foragers selecting a seed during only one trial, with very few foragers returning to forage for seeds over the course of the experiment.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019-05

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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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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Collective personality in the Azteca-Cecropia mutualism

Description

For interspecific mutualisms, the behavior of one partner can influence the fitness of the other, especially in the case of symbiotic mutualisms where partners live in close physical association for

For interspecific mutualisms, the behavior of one partner can influence the fitness of the other, especially in the case of symbiotic mutualisms where partners live in close physical association for much of their lives. Behavioral effects on fitness may be particularly important if either species in these long-term relationships displays personality. Animal personality is defined as repeatable individual differences in behavior, and how correlations among these consistent traits are structured is termed behavioral syndromes. Animal personality has been broadly documented across the animal kingdom but is poorly understood in the context of mutualisms. My dissertation focuses on the structure, causes, and consequences of collective personality in Azteca constructor colonies that live in Cecropia trees, one of the most successful and prominent mutualisms of the neotropics. These pioneer plants provide hollow internodes for nesting and nutrient-rich food bodies; in return, the ants provide protection from herbivores and encroaching vines. I first explored the structure of the behavioral syndrome by testing the consistency and correlation of colony-level behavioral traits under natural conditions in the field. Traits were both consistent within colonies and correlated among colonies revealing a behavioral syndrome along a docile-aggressive axis. Host plants of more active, aggressive colonies had less leaf damage, suggesting a link between a colony personality and host plant health. I then studied how aspects of colony sociometry are intertwined with their host plants by assessing the relationship among plant growth, colony growth, colony structure, ant morphology, and colony personality. Colony personality was independent of host plant measures like tree size, age, volume. Finally, I tested how colony personality influenced by soil nutrients by assessing personality in the field and transferring colonies to plants the greenhouse under different soil nutrient treatments. Personality was correlated with soil nutrients in the field but was not influenced by soil nutrient treatment in the greenhouse. This suggests that soil nutrients interact with other factors in the environment to structure personality. This dissertation demonstrates that colony personality is an ecologically relevant phenomenon and an important consideration for mutualism dynamics.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Understanding the emerging behaviors and demands for the colony success of social insects: a mathematical approach

Description

The most advanced social insects, the eusocial insects, form often large societies in which there is reproductive division of labor, queens and workers, have overlapping generations, and cooperative brood care

The most advanced social insects, the eusocial insects, form often large societies in which there is reproductive division of labor, queens and workers, have overlapping generations, and cooperative brood care where daughter workers remain in the nest with their queen mother and care for their siblings. The eusocial insects are composed of representative species of bees and wasps, and all species of ants and termites. Much is known about their organizational structure, but remains to be discovered.

The success of social insects is dependent upon cooperative behavior and adaptive strategies shaped by natural selection that respond to internal or external conditions. The objective of my research was to investigate specific mechanisms that have helped shaped the structure of division of labor observed in social insect colonies, including age polyethism and nutrition, and phenomena known to increase colony survival such as egg cannibalism. I developed various Ordinary Differential Equation (ODE) models in which I applied dynamical, bifurcation, and sensitivity analysis to carefully study and visualize biological outcomes in social organisms to answer questions regarding the conditions under which a colony can survive. First, I investigated how the population and evolutionary dynamics of egg cannibalism and division of labor can promote colony survival. I then introduced a model of social conflict behavior to study the inclusion of different response functions that explore the benefits of cannibalistic behavior and how it contributes to age polyethism, the change in behavior of workers as they age, and its biological relevance. Finally, I introduced a model to investigate the importance of pollen nutritional status in a honeybee colony, how it affects population growth and influences division of labor within the worker caste. My results first reveal that both cannibalism and division of labor are adaptive strategies that increase the size of the worker population, and therefore, the persistence of the colony. I show the importance of food collection, consumption, and processing rates to promote good colony nutrition leading to the coexistence of brood and adult workers. Lastly, I show how taking into account seasonality for pollen collection improves the prediction of long term consequences.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Proximate and ultimate mechanisms of nestmate recognition in ants

Description

The most abundantly studied societies, with the exception of humans, are those of the eusocial insects, which include all ants. Eusocial insect societies are typically composed of many dozens to

The most abundantly studied societies, with the exception of humans, are those of the eusocial insects, which include all ants. Eusocial insect societies are typically composed of many dozens to millions of individuals, referred to as nestmates, which require some form of communication to maintain colony cohesion and coordinate the activities within them. Nestmate recognition is the process of distinguishing between nestmates and non-nestmates, and embodies the first line of defense for social insect colonies. In ants, nestmate recognition is widely thought to occur through olfactory cues found on the exterior surfaces of individuals. These cues, called cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), comprise the overwhelming majority of ant nestmate profiles and help maintain colony identity. In this dissertation, I investigate how nestmate recognition is influenced by evolutionary, ontogenetic, and environmental factors. First, I contributed to the sequencing and description of three ant genomes including the red harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, presented in detail here. Next, I studied how variation in nestmate cues may be shaped through evolution by comparatively studying a family of genes involved in fatty acid and hydrocarbon biosynthesis, i.e., the acyl-CoA desaturases, across seven ant species in comparison with other social and solitary insects. Then, I tested how genetic, developmental, and social factors influence CHC profile variation in P. barbatus, through a three-part study. (1) I conducted a descriptive, correlative study of desaturase gene expression and CHC variation in P. barbatus workers and queens; (2) I explored how larger-scale genetic variation in the P. barbatus species complex influences CHC variation across two genetically isolated lineages (J1/J2 genetic caste determining lineages); and (3) I experimentally examined how CHC development is influenced by an individual’s social environment. In the final part of my work, I resolved discrepancies between previous findings of nestmate recognition behavior in P. barbatus by studying how factors of territorial experience, i.e., spatiotemporal relationships, affect aggressive behaviors among red harvester ant colonies. Through this research, I was able to identify promising methodological approaches and candidate genes, which both broadens our understanding of P. barbatus nestmate recognition systems and supports future functional genetic studies of CHCs in ants.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016