Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ants build raft to escape flood, protect queen

Date:
February 19, 2014
Source:
PLOS
Summary:
When facing a flood, ants build rafts and use both the buoyancy of the brood and the recovery ability of workers to minimize injury or death.

These are ants building a raft.
Credit: Jessica Purcell; CC-BY

When facing a flood, ants build rafts and use both the buoyancy of the brood and the recovery ability of workers to minimize injury or death, according to a study published in PLOS ONE on February 19, 2014 by Jessica Purcell from University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and colleagues. Furthermore, the queen ant is placed in the middle and protected on all sides by the rafting ants.

Related Articles


When put in harm's way, social animals are often able to work together to enhance the survival and welfare of the group. Ants living on flood plains are known to link to together to create rafts during floods, but less is known about the composition, shape, and social structure, if any, of these rafts. To better understand this process, scientists collected ants from a flood plain in Switzerland and brought them back to the lab so they could induce flooding in ant populations containing different combinations of worker ants, queens, and broods (containing developing larvae and pupae). During the 'flooding,' they observed where the workers, brood, and queens were positioned in the raft. The flooding also allowed them to observe the buoyancy and recovery ability of the worker ants and brood.

Researchers found that the worker ants and brood were extremely resistant to submersion. The workers protected the most vulnerable and valuable nest mate, the queen, by placing her in the center of the raft, and the worker ants used the buoyancy of the brood at the base and recovery ability of workers to create a raft and minimize ant injury or death. Both workers and brood exhibited high survival rates after they rafted, which suggests that occupying the base of the raft is not as deadly as scientists expected. Placing the brood at the base of the raft may also aid in keeping the nest together during the flood.

Dr. Purcell added, "We expected that individuals submerged on the base of the raft would face the highest cost, so we were astonished to see the ants systematically place the youngest colony members in that positions. Further experiments revealed that the brood are the most buoyant members of the society and that rafting does not decrease their survival; thus, this configuration benefits the group at minimal cost."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jessica Purcell, Amaury Avril, Geoffrey Jaffuel, Sarah Bates, Michel Chapuisat. Ant Brood Function as Life Preservers during Floods. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (2): e89211 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089211

Cite This Page:

PLOS. "Ants build raft to escape flood, protect queen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219174857.htm>.
PLOS. (2014, February 19). Ants build raft to escape flood, protect queen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219174857.htm
PLOS. "Ants build raft to escape flood, protect queen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219174857.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

You Won't Be Driving Tesla's Mystery Product

You Won't Be Driving Tesla's Mystery Product

Newsy (Mar. 30, 2015) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a new product line will debut April 30, but it&apos;s not a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) — Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Myanmar&apos;s second biggest city of Mandalay and heads for China&apos;s Chongqing, the fifth flight of a landmark journey to circumnavigate the globe powered solely by the sun. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colombian Project Transforms Old Tires Into Green Housing

Colombian Project Transforms Old Tires Into Green Housing

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) — To put a roof over their heads and help the environment, residents near Bogota are building houses out of recycled bottles and old tires. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Future Of Japanese Whaling: Heritage Vs. Conservation

The Future Of Japanese Whaling: Heritage Vs. Conservation

Newsy (Mar. 30, 2015) — In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled Japan could no longer engage in whaling in the Antarctic, but Japan has plans to return this year. Video provided by Newsy
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