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The Behavior of Acromyrmex crassispinus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on Trail Bifurcations and the Influence of Ant Flow on Error Rates of Nestbound Laden Workers

Nickele, Mariane A., Pie, Marcio R., Moura, Mauricio O.
Journal of insect behavior 2018 v.31 no.4 pp. 373-384
Acromyrmex, Atta, food transport, foraging, insect behavior, leaf-cutting ants, nests, traffic, trail pheromones
Ants are ordinarily faced with a succession of bifurcations along their foraging networks. Given that there is no directionality in pheromone trails, each bifurcation is potentially an opportunity for error in the trajectory of laden workers to the nest, which could entail considerable inefficiencies in the transportation of food to the colony. Leaf-cutting ants (Atta and Acromyrmex) commonly show intense traffic and complex foraging trail systems, which make them ideal organisms to study worker behavior in trail bifurcations. The behavior of leaf-cutting ants of the genus Acromyrmex in trail bifurcations is still largely unexplored. Thus, this study aimed to assess the behavior of Acromyrmex crassispinus workers on trail bifurcations and to investigate whether differences in ant flow on foraging trails influence the error rate of nestbound laden workers at trail bifurcation. There was a negative relationship between ant flow and error rate of nestbound laden workers. Most workers walked in the central part of the foraging trails but occupied a broader area of the foraging trail when the ant flow was high. The results of this study provide valuable insight into the organization of traffic flow in A. crassispinus and its impacts on the foraging strategy of the species.