Adult transport in the ant Cataglyphis iberica: A means to maintain a uniform colonial odour in a species with multiple nests

A. Dahbi, X. Cerdá, A. Hefetz, A. Lenoir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Societies of the ant Cataglyphis iberica (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) comprise several satellite queenless nests around a queenright nest. During spring, at the end of hibernation, the incidence of adult transport between these nests is high, but it decreases daring summer. Quantitative analyses of the contents of postpharyngeal glands of transporter and transportee ants reveal the amounts of hydrocarbons to be lower in the latter, indicating that these ants are generally younger. Moreover, the more diverse composition of the transportees' secretion may reflect their individual makeup. Transporters, in contrast, maintained a uniform colony odour through trophallactic exchanges before entering hibernation. The odour disparity between the transportees and the general colony odour may stimulate the transporters to bear them to the nest containing the queen where they can obtain the colony odour via trophallaxis. The intense traffic between satellite nests in the spring may thus be the means by which a uniform colonial odour is regained after hibernation. Adult transport seems also to be necessary since the young transportee ants are not able to orient themselves and find the other nests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1997

Keywords

  • 'gestalt' odour
  • Cataglyphis iberica
  • adult carrying
  • hydrocarbon profiles
  • polydomy

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