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Information transfer during recruitment in the ant Lasius niger L. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Le Breton, Julien, Fourcassié, V.
Behavioral ecology and sociobiology 2004 v.55 no.3 pp. 242-250
Lasius niger, foraging, information exchange, nests, sugars, trail pheromones, worker insects
In this paper, we used the food-correlated search behavior observed in foraging ants returning to a previously rewarding site to study information transfer during recruitment in the ant Lasius niger. We hypothesized that, if information about the characteristics of the food is conveyed during recruitment, food-correlated search tactics should also be observed in recruited workers. Our results show that the characteristics of the trajectories of recruited workers are comparable to those of scout ants returning to a site or prior food find and depend more on the type (prey/sugar) than on the quality (sugar concentration) of the food discovered by the scouts. Independent of sugar concentration, workers recruited to a source of sugar search with a greater sinuosity than workers recruited to a prey. Experimental manipulation of the recruitment signals (chemical trail and contact between ants) shows that the trail pheromone laid down by recruiting ants does not play a role in the modification of trajectory sinuosity. This change appears to be most likely triggered by a direct perception of the residue of sugar smeared on the body of the recruiting workers coming back to the nest.