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

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Spatial dynamics of colony distribution and nest emigration in the ponerinae ant Neoponera verenae

Author(s):
Ronara de Souza Ferreira Châline, Romane Vignon , Nicolas Châline , Stéphane Chameron , Ketryn Rodrigues do Amaral , Ronara de Souza Ferreira Châline
Institution(s):
LEEEIS, Departamento de Psicologia Experimental, Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; LEEC, Université Paris 13, Villetaneuse, France & LEEEIS, Departamento de Psicologia Experimental, Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil ; LEEEIS, Departamento de Psicologia Experimental, Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil ; LEEC, Université Paris 13, Villetaneuse, France ; LECA, Departamento de Biologia, Centro de Ciências Exatas, Naturais e da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Alegre, Brazil ; LEEEIS, Departamento de Psicologia Experimental, Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Choosing a new nest site is ecologically critical for an insect colony, especially for those formed mainly by flightless individuals, like ants. Associated with other life-story traits, this constraint can result in short-range nest emigrations, which results in a continuous modulation of intra and intercolonial interactions. In Neoponera verenae ants, a territorial species that lives in dense populations and usually inhabit already existing available cavities in the ground, nest emigrations are common. In this species, colonies move to new nests when their size is greater than the nest capacity, or if nest quality decreases. However, the modulation of this behaviour in the field is little known. Here, we studied the spatial dynamics of colony distribution and nest emigration over a 150 square-meter area during a two-months period and monitored both individual and colony-level movement at the Rosal Reserve in Guaçui, ES. Eight hundreds foragers were individually marked. Initial colony distribution varied from two to 150 meters. During the evaluation period, we observed nest emigration for 14 of the 20 colonies, with the distance from the old nest varying from 20 cm to 15 m. Three colonies emigrated twice and one three times. Four colonies split and maintained two active nests, with foraging activity in both. During nest emigration, few individual foragers guide other colony members to the new nest by repeated tandem-runs and transport. Unexperienced workers become the most active foragers at new nest. Foragers from several colonies were found foraging at the entrance of other colonies and intercolonial encounters commonly occured, resulting in tolerance, avoidance or sometimes aggression, according to colony characteristics and familiarity. In conclusion, our results show that highly dynamic and frequent colony movements of N. verenae colonies may select for a flexible modulation of recognition and aggressive behavior during intercolonial encounters.
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