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An overlooked mandibular-rubbing behavior used during recruitment by the African weaver ant, Oecophylla longinoda.

Roux O, Billen J, Orivel J, Dejean A - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: We demonstrate that this behavior is used to recruit nestmates.Its frequency varies with the rate at which a new territory, a sugary food source, a prey item, or an alien ant are discovered.So, by rubbing their mandibles onto the substrate, the workers probably spread a secretion from these glands that is involved in nestmate recruitment.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique: Unité Mixte de Recherche, Kourou, France. oroux@cict.fr

ABSTRACT
In Oecophylla, an ant genus comprising two territorially dominant arboreal species, workers are known to (1) use anal spots to mark their territories, (2) drag their gaster along the substrate to deposit short-range recruitment trails, and (3) drag the extruded rectal gland along the substrate to deposit the trails used in long-range recruitment. Here we study an overlooked but important marking behavior in which O. longinoda workers first rub the underside of their mandibles onto the substrate, and then--in a surprising posture--tilt their head and also rub the upper side of their mandibles. We demonstrate that this behavior is used to recruit nestmates. Its frequency varies with the rate at which a new territory, a sugary food source, a prey item, or an alien ant are discovered. Microscopy analyses showed that both the upper side and the underside of the mandibles possess pores linked to secretory glands. So, by rubbing their mandibles onto the substrate, the workers probably spread a secretion from these glands that is involved in nestmate recruitment.

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Number of markings per quarter surface unit when a clean piece of paper and then a prey were introduced.We compared the number of markings on two areas (a marked area or ¾ of a circle 29 cm in diameter and clean; unmarked areas or ¼ of the same circle) during 10 minutes after the introduction of the new, unmarked area (n = 35). Just after, a prey was carefully deposited in the centre and we again compared the number of markings on the two areas during 10 minutes. The box plots indicate the median (large horizontal bars), the 25th and 75th percentiles (squares), and the minimum and maximum values (whiskers). Statistical comparisons were conducted using glmm; *** = P<0.001 and * = P<0.05.
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pone-0008957-g003: Number of markings per quarter surface unit when a clean piece of paper and then a prey were introduced.We compared the number of markings on two areas (a marked area or ¾ of a circle 29 cm in diameter and clean; unmarked areas or ¼ of the same circle) during 10 minutes after the introduction of the new, unmarked area (n = 35). Just after, a prey was carefully deposited in the centre and we again compared the number of markings on the two areas during 10 minutes. The box plots indicate the median (large horizontal bars), the 25th and 75th percentiles (squares), and the minimum and maximum values (whiskers). Statistical comparisons were conducted using glmm; *** = P<0.001 and * = P<0.05.

Mentions: During the second series of experiments, the number of markings on the clean pieces of paper (corresponding to the discovery of a new territory, without markings) was proportionately significantly higher than the number of markings on the control area (1) during the 10 minutes following the introduction of the clean pieces of paper (the difference in surface area being taken into consideration, z = −2.024; P<0.05), and (2) after a prey was introduced (z = −16.343; P<0.001) (Fig. 3). Meanwhile, during the entire duration of the experiment (the three series of 10 minute controls) the number of workers had significantly increased over the entire circle between the different stages of the experiment: before and after the introduction of a clean piece of paper (z = 3.736; P<0.001), and before and after the introduction of a prey (z = 6.524; P<0.001) (Fig. 4). During these experiments, we did not note workers dragging their gaster on the substrate (with or without extruded rectal glands) to recruit nestmates at short- or long range, probably because we removed all of those that left the surroundings of the experimental area and moved at least ca. 20 cm away.


An overlooked mandibular-rubbing behavior used during recruitment by the African weaver ant, Oecophylla longinoda.

Roux O, Billen J, Orivel J, Dejean A - PLoS ONE (2010)

Number of markings per quarter surface unit when a clean piece of paper and then a prey were introduced.We compared the number of markings on two areas (a marked area or ¾ of a circle 29 cm in diameter and clean; unmarked areas or ¼ of the same circle) during 10 minutes after the introduction of the new, unmarked area (n = 35). Just after, a prey was carefully deposited in the centre and we again compared the number of markings on the two areas during 10 minutes. The box plots indicate the median (large horizontal bars), the 25th and 75th percentiles (squares), and the minimum and maximum values (whiskers). Statistical comparisons were conducted using glmm; *** = P<0.001 and * = P<0.05.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2813860&req=5

pone-0008957-g003: Number of markings per quarter surface unit when a clean piece of paper and then a prey were introduced.We compared the number of markings on two areas (a marked area or ¾ of a circle 29 cm in diameter and clean; unmarked areas or ¼ of the same circle) during 10 minutes after the introduction of the new, unmarked area (n = 35). Just after, a prey was carefully deposited in the centre and we again compared the number of markings on the two areas during 10 minutes. The box plots indicate the median (large horizontal bars), the 25th and 75th percentiles (squares), and the minimum and maximum values (whiskers). Statistical comparisons were conducted using glmm; *** = P<0.001 and * = P<0.05.
Mentions: During the second series of experiments, the number of markings on the clean pieces of paper (corresponding to the discovery of a new territory, without markings) was proportionately significantly higher than the number of markings on the control area (1) during the 10 minutes following the introduction of the clean pieces of paper (the difference in surface area being taken into consideration, z = −2.024; P<0.05), and (2) after a prey was introduced (z = −16.343; P<0.001) (Fig. 3). Meanwhile, during the entire duration of the experiment (the three series of 10 minute controls) the number of workers had significantly increased over the entire circle between the different stages of the experiment: before and after the introduction of a clean piece of paper (z = 3.736; P<0.001), and before and after the introduction of a prey (z = 6.524; P<0.001) (Fig. 4). During these experiments, we did not note workers dragging their gaster on the substrate (with or without extruded rectal glands) to recruit nestmates at short- or long range, probably because we removed all of those that left the surroundings of the experimental area and moved at least ca. 20 cm away.

Bottom Line: We demonstrate that this behavior is used to recruit nestmates.Its frequency varies with the rate at which a new territory, a sugary food source, a prey item, or an alien ant are discovered.So, by rubbing their mandibles onto the substrate, the workers probably spread a secretion from these glands that is involved in nestmate recruitment.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique: Unité Mixte de Recherche, Kourou, France. oroux@cict.fr

ABSTRACT
In Oecophylla, an ant genus comprising two territorially dominant arboreal species, workers are known to (1) use anal spots to mark their territories, (2) drag their gaster along the substrate to deposit short-range recruitment trails, and (3) drag the extruded rectal gland along the substrate to deposit the trails used in long-range recruitment. Here we study an overlooked but important marking behavior in which O. longinoda workers first rub the underside of their mandibles onto the substrate, and then--in a surprising posture--tilt their head and also rub the upper side of their mandibles. We demonstrate that this behavior is used to recruit nestmates. Its frequency varies with the rate at which a new territory, a sugary food source, a prey item, or an alien ant are discovered. Microscopy analyses showed that both the upper side and the underside of the mandibles possess pores linked to secretory glands. So, by rubbing their mandibles onto the substrate, the workers probably spread a secretion from these glands that is involved in nestmate recruitment.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus