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Chemosensory sensitivity reflects reproductive status in the ant Harpegnathos saltator

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Insects communicate with pheromones using sensitive antennal sensilla. Although trace amounts of pheromones can be detected by many insects, context-dependent increased costs of high sensitivity might lead to plasticity in

Insects communicate with pheromones using sensitive antennal sensilla. Although trace amounts of pheromones can be detected by many insects, context-dependent increased costs of high sensitivity might lead to plasticity in sensillum responsiveness. We have functionally characterized basiconic sensilla of the ant Harpegnathos saltator for responses to general odors in comparison to cuticular hydrocarbons which can act as fertility signals emitted by the principal reproductive(s) of a colony to inhibit reproduction by worker colony members. When released from inhibition workers may become reproductive gamergates. We observed plasticity in olfactory sensitivity after transition to reproductive status with significant reductions in electrophysiological responses to several long-chained cuticular hydrocarbons. Although gamergates lived on average five times longer than non-reproductive workers, the shift to reproductive status rather than age differences matched the pattern of changes in olfactory sensitivity. Decreasing sensillum responsiveness to cuticular hydrocarbons could potentially reduce mutually inhibitory or self-inhibitory effects on gamergate reproduction.

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Date Created
  • 2017-06-16

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Conservation of Avian Species: Examining the Prevalence of Urban and Non-Urban Bird Species Admitted to Wildlife Centers in the Greater Phoenix Area

Description

Due to the widely accepted trend of urbanization displacing wildlife from their natural habitats and niches, many wildlife conservation organizations have sprouted up, even in Phoenix. Liberty Wildlife Foundation is

Due to the widely accepted trend of urbanization displacing wildlife from their natural habitats and niches, many wildlife conservation organizations have sprouted up, even in Phoenix. Liberty Wildlife Foundation is one that rehabilitates avian wildlife. Several studies have mentioned an opposing theory: that urbanization helps conserve those species that have turned urban environments into a niche of their own. Since these wildlife conservation centers are localized in cities themselves, this brings into question these organizations' definitions of the term "wildlife." This study examined injury and recovery statistics to determine just how many of the patients admitted were conventional wildlife versus urban-dwelling city birds, and whether this classification had any effect on their likeliness of recovery and release. The data showed that out of over 130 species, a few key urban species contributed to an overwhelmingly large majority of injured birds admitted to the center in 2017; urban and non-urban birds, however, had relatively equal average release frequencies, demonstrating then that their likelihood of recovery was predominantly dependent on the injury borne by them.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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The Effect of Dominance Bite Aggression, Duel Initiation, and Group Size on Gamergate Formation in Harpegnathos Saltator Ants

Description

Much is still unknown about dominance hierarchies. Many different species form dominance hierarchies and each species have very different ways of forming these hierarchies. Some engage in various different dominance

Much is still unknown about dominance hierarchies. Many different species form dominance hierarchies and each species have very different ways of forming these hierarchies. Some engage in various different dominance interactions to establish a dominant position. This experiment aims to use the ant species, Harpegnathos saltator, as a model to explore what sets dominant individuals, or gamergates in this case, apart from non-dominant individuals, or non-gamergates. H. saltator ants perform various different behaviors such as dueling, which is a mutually beneficial behavior, dominance biting, which is an aggressive behavior, and policing which is used to bring down those who are dominant. These behaviors can be used to study the importance of initiation and aggression in hierarchy formation. This experiment will explore how aggression through dominance biting, duel initiation, group size, and time period affect the formation of gamergates. To do so, socially unstable colonies of 15, 30, and 60 ants were video recorded for days until gamergates were established. Then, from the recordings, a period of high activity was selected and observed for dueling, duel initiation, dominance biting, dominance bite downs, and policing. The results showed that gamergates tended to perform dominance biting and dominance bite downs far more than non-gamergates during the period of high activity, but not as clearly with duelling and duel initiations. It was inconclusive whether or not the combination of both dueling and dominance biting was what set gamergates apart from non gamergates as different groups showed different results. Gamergates performed visibly more dominance bite downs than non-gamergates, so aggression may be important in setting gamergates apart from non-gamergates. In terms of group size, the smallest group had the least number of gamergates and the least activity, and the medium and large group had a similar number of gamergates and activity.

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Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Nestmate Recognition in Camponotus is Affected by the Structure of Added Hydrocarbons

Description

Olfactory discrimination tasks can provide useful information about how olfaction may have evolved by demonstrating which types of compounds animals will detect and respond to. Ants discriminate between nestmates and

Olfactory discrimination tasks can provide useful information about how olfaction may have evolved by demonstrating which types of compounds animals will detect and respond to. Ants discriminate between nestmates and non-nestmates by using olfaction to detect the cuticular hydrocarbons on other ants, and Camponotus floridanus have particularly clear and aggressive responses to non-nestmates. A new method of adding hydrocarbons to ants, the “Snow Globe” method was further optimized and tested on C. floridanus. It involves adding hydrocarbons and a solvent to a vial of water, vortexing it, suspending hydrocarbon droplets throughout the solution, and then dipping a narcotized ant in. It is hoped this method can evenly coat ants in hydrocarbon. Ants were treated with heptacosane (C27), nonacosane (C29), hentriacontane (C31), a mixture of C27/C29/C31, 2-methyltriacontane (2MeC30), S-3-methylhentriacontane (SMeC31), and R-3-methylhentriacontane (RMeC31). These were chosen to see how ants reacted in a nestmate recognition context to methyl-branched hydrocarbons, R and S enantiomers, and to multiple added alkanes. Behavior assays were performed on treated ants, as well as two untreated controls, a foreign ant and a nestmate ant. There were 15 replicates of each condition, using 15 different queenright colonies. The Snow Globe method successfully transfers hydrocarbons, as confirmed by solid phase microextraction (SPME) done on treated ants, and the behavior assay data shows the foreign control, SMeC31, and the mixture of C27/29/31 were all statistically significant in their differences from the native control. The multiple alkane mixture received a significant response while single alkanes did not, which supports the idea that larger variations in hydrocarbon profile are needed for an ant to be perceived as foreign. The response to SMeC31 shows C. floridanus can respond during nestmate recognition to hydrocarbons that are not naturally occurring, and it indicates the nestmate recognition process may simply be responding to any compounds not found in the colony profile and rather than detecting particular foreign compounds.

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Date Created
  • 2021-05