Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vicious queen ants use mob tactics to reach the top

Date:
October 1, 2011
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
Leptothorax acervorum ants' reproductive strategy depends on habitat. Colonies are functionally monogynous (only one queen reproduces) on sun-exposed slopes in Alaska, Hokkaido and the mountains of central Spain. New research demonstrates that queen ants fight by antennal boxing to become the reproductive queen, and that worker ants reinforce queen behavior by feeding dominant females and expelling, or killing, their weaker sisters.

A worker Leptothorax acervorum is biting a queen.
Credit: Juergen Trettin

Leptothorax acervorum ants live all over the Northern hemisphere, but their reproductive strategy depends on habitat. Colonies are polygynous (more than one queen) in the forest of Siberia and central Europe, but functionally monogynous (only one queen reproduces) on sun-exposed slopes in Alaska, Hokkaido and the mountains of central Spain. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Ecology demonstrates that when a colony is functionally monogynous not only do queen ants fight by antennal boxing to become the reproductive queen, but that worker ants reinforce queen behaviour by feeding dominant females and expelling, or killing, their weaker sisters.

Researchers from University of Regensburg studied the behaviour of L. acervorum in Spain. In these colonies only a single queen was able to reproduce. All the other queens either did not yet have active ovaries, or their ovaries had reverted to an inactive state. The ants were observed fighting, both queen to queen, and worker ants to queens. However the inter-queen fighting involved ritualistic antennal boxing and mandible threats, while the workers were more vicious, and also pulled and bit low ranking queens.

The top queen was decided by the infighting between the queens. However queen reproductive status was not predicted by worker ants' violence but rather was reinforced by the workers feeding and grooming the more dominant queens.

Juergen Trettin, the lead scientists involved in the research said: "These ants live high on mountain slopes -- which makes dispersal and colony formation difficult. Under these circumstances the colony cannot support more than one reproductive queen and limited resources make it inadvantageous for the colony to allow low ranking queens to leave and start their own colonies. Destruction of habitat, for instance due to climate change, may cause this behaviour to become extinct."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Juergen Trettin, Monika Haubner, Alfred Buschinger and Juergen Heinze. Queen dominance and worker policing control reproduction in a threatened ant. BMC Ecology, 2011; (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Vicious queen ants use mob tactics to reach the top." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929235154.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2011, October 1). Vicious queen ants use mob tactics to reach the top. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929235154.htm
BioMed Central. "Vicious queen ants use mob tactics to reach the top." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929235154.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins