International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Personality traits and task performance in Camponotus vagus ants

Author(s):
Gema Trigos-Peral, Gema Trigos-Peral , István Elek Maák , Piotr Ślipiński , Magdalena Witek
Institution(s):
Department of Social and Myrmecophilous Insects, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland; Department of Social and Myrmecophilous Insects, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, POland ; Department of Social and Myrmecophilous Insects, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, POland ; Department of Social and Myrmecophilous Insects, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, POland ; Department of Social and Myrmecophilous Insects, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, POland
Task allocation and division of labour have been described as a key mechanism influencing the success of social insects and their dominant role in many ecosystems. Still little is known about how individual behavioural tendencies can affect task performance in social insects, particularly in ants. The aim of our study was to test whether individual personality traits influence task preferences of Camponotus vagus ants. The observations were done under laboratory conditions on ants deriving from different colonies. We measured aggression, boldness and exploration skills twice (in the distance of one month) for each individual. We also carried out scans of these ants inside their colonies every second day to detect the task performance of each of tested individual. Behavioural scans started when the ant was two week old and finished with death of the worker. Observed behaviours were divided into four groups: brood care, social interactions, being inactive or active. Our results showed that ants that spent most of their time on brood care were also less aggressive, more docile and had lower exploration skills. More social ants were also more explorative. Those ants that were active and performed tasks in the nest like walking, cleaning or foraging had also higher exploration skills and were bolder. Our results suggest that individual behavioural tendencies can affect task performance in ants. Moreover, variation in personality traits among individuals of the same colony may be one of the mechanism maintain task specialization.
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