Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants
Author(s)Pless, Evlyn; Queirolo, Jovel; Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Mathur, Maya B.; Gordon, Deborah M.; Allen, Kelsey Rebecca; ... Show more Show less
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Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Public Library of Science
Pless, Evlyn, Jovel Queirolo, Noa Pinter-Wollman, Sam Crow, Kelsey Allen, Maya B. Mathur, and Deborah M. Gordon. “Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants.” Edited by Nicolas Chaline. PLoS ONE 10, no. 11 (November 5, 2015): e0141971.
Final published version