CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW: SOUND SIGNALS IN ANTS MAY AID WORKERS IN RECOVERING THEIR BURIED SISTERS

picture of Matthew Velazquez presenting his/her poster: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW: SOUND SIGNALS IN ANTS MAY AID WORKERS IN RECOVERING THEIR BURIED SISTERS

Matthew Velazquez , Anna Dornhaus, Wulfila Gronenberg

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW: SOUND SIGNALS IN ANTS MAY AID WORKERS IN RECOVERING THEIR BURIED SISTERS

In insects, stridulation is the act of producing sound by rubbing together certain body parts. Stridulatory communication has been observed in a handful of ant species belonging to the sub-families of Ponerinae, Myrmicinae and Pseudomyrmecinae. If you put an ear close to these ants that stridulate one may here their distinct inconspicuous buzzing sounds:bzzzz bzzzz. The location of the stridulatory organ differs among species; it is found within the abdomen between the post-petiole and end of abdominal tergite segments. We will using dissecting and electron microscopy identify the stridulation organ in Odontomachus clarus. Previous research suggests that the role of stridulatory communication differs from species to species. In the genus Odontomachus no previous research on acoustic communication has been done. Odonotmachus stridulations have been so far recorded air-borne via sensitive studio microphones.  In future experiments we will be defining the role of stridulation in cave-in situations in Odontomachus clarus. Workers will be buried alive in various substrates and varying depth. Preliminary data and observations suggest that workers can be detected buried in substrate approximately half an inch underground. In addition, ants will be collected and color labeled from different colonies. This will be done to determine whether ants can distinguish workers from their own and or other colonies through audible signals. This will test the possibility that ants may not only identify their sisters through chemical signals but unique substrate-borne vibration. Rescue attempts in the animal kingdom are considered rare activity and the research in ants have suggested that ants help other workers apart of the same nest. Though will Odontomachus clarus discriminate between workers from other nests using just sound, suggesting a more complex form of communication independent from chemicals? 

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