BROOD CARE SYNDROMES IN THE ANT TEMNATHORAX RUGATULUS (PARENTING IN ANTS)

Kevin Harrington , Anna Dornhaus, Sarah Bengston

BROOD CARE SYNDROMES IN THE ANT TEMNATHORAX RUGATULUS (PARENTING IN ANTS)

In social insects such as ants and bees brood care is an essential task for the colony. Uncovering brood care patterns in the ant T. rugatulus may give us insight into parental behavior in other social insects along with animals in general. In this study I will be comparing brood care in two different context to see if any patterns arise, if a correlation is present between the two brood care contexts then we have a behavioral syndrome. A behavioral syndrome is defined as two or more correlated behaviors that do not change with time or context. The two contexts for which brood care will be investigated are: emigration trials and intruder trials. For the emigration trials I will be looking at how quickly brood is moved into the new colony after initial recruitment and for the intruder trials I will be looking at how actively brood was moved away from an intruder. If I see similar brood care strategies in these two contexts then I can say that there is a brood care syndrome present. I am testing the hypothesis that colonies will show a correlation between brood defensive behaviors and how quickly brood was moved during emigration and with this information I will compare how colonies differed in their overall behaviors. Preliminary results have not shown a significant relationship in brood care strategies across the colonies. If a relationship begins to form with additional data being input it will tell us that ants within a colony interact with brood similarly across contexts and that colonies differ in this unique brood care. Being able to understand how colonies differ in their brood care behavior can tell us how brood priorities differ between colonies, it may also allow us to see which types of behaviors are the most profitable to the colony based on number of brood present. Parenting is a tool used by many organisms, thus it would be relevant to discover if parenting strategies change between colonies and why.

Funding: NSF Grant (334140)

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