Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ant colonies remember rivals' odor and compete like sports fans

Date:
February 21, 2012
Source:
University of Melbourne
Summary:
A new study has shown that weaver ants share a collective memory for the odor of ants in rival nests, and use the information to identify them and compete, similar to how sports fans know each other instantly by their unique colors.

Ant nest. Weaver ants share a collective memory for the odour of ants in rival nests, and use the information to identify them and compete, similar to how sports fans know each other instantly by their unique colours.
Credit: Steve Lovegrove / Fotolia

A new study led by the University of Melbourne has shown that weaver ants share a collective memory for the odour of ants in rival nests, and use the information to identify them and compete, similar to how sports fans know each other instantly by their unique colours.

The ant colony collective memory gives them an edge in a competitive world by priming all nest mates with information about rivals before they encounter them, said study leader Professor Mark Elgar from the University's Department of Zoology.

"This communication highlights the impressive nature of ant societies because the colonies of some species, like weaver ants, can consist of networks of nests containing millions of workers," said Professor Elgar.

The research is published in the current issue of the international journal Naturwissenschaften and included researchers from the Departments of Zoology and Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne.

The research team conducted experiments with colonies of weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) who are more aggressive to ants from nearby rival nests, just as sporting rivalry is greater between teams from the same city, prime examples are Carlton and Collingwood in Australian rules football or Manchester City and Manchester United.

The scientists took ants from 12 colonies of weaver ants and challenged them with intruders from other colonies that were either familiar or unfamiliar to them, based on previous experimental challenges.

"We find that once an ant has had an encounter with a rival, it can go back to its colony and pass on information about the rival's smell and about how aggressive the interaction was.

"When a colony was exposed to intruders from the same rival nest repeatedly, we saw the encounters were increasingly aggressive, suggesting that ants were passing on information about the frequency of interaction to their nestmates as well as information about their identity."

The next step for the research team is to understand what chemical and behavioural cues the ants use to communicate this complex information.

Weaver ants build intricate nests in trees and are found in northern Australia, India and Africa.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Katherine P. Gill, Ellen Wilgenburg, Peter Taylor, Mark A. Elgar. Collective retention and transmission of chemical signals in a social insect. Naturwissenschaften, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s00114-012-0891-7

Cite This Page:

University of Melbourne. "Ant colonies remember rivals' odor and compete like sports fans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221124817.htm>.
University of Melbourne. (2012, February 21). Ant colonies remember rivals' odor and compete like sports fans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221124817.htm
University of Melbourne. "Ant colonies remember rivals' odor and compete like sports fans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221124817.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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