Presentation Title

Network structure and risk analysis in turtle ant nest choice

Faculty Mentor

Matina Donaldson-Matasci

Start Date

18-11-2017 2:15 PM

End Date

18-11-2017 3:15 PM

Location

BSC-Ursa Minor 80

Session

Poster 3

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

biological_agricultural_sciences

Abstract

Social insect colonies have individual members with specialized roles that interact and contribute to the fitness of the whole colony. This quality makes them useful for understanding and modeling decision-making strategies that involve both individual and collective decisions. In particular, turtle ants (genus Cephalotes) are useful for understanding collective nest-defense strategies because of their specialized soldier caste. This study aimed to examine the risk analysis of Cepholotes varians and Cephalotes texanus in nest-choice. A single colony lives in multiple nests in trees, where nesting sites and the pathways between them are limited and frequently destroyed. Thus, we hypothesized that turtle ant colonies minimize the risk of losing access to a nest and its resources by choosing nest networks that are more connected and compact. We presented six turtle ant colonies with opportunities to colonize two different nest networks: one that was more connected and compact and one that was less so. We filmed colony movement for 12 hours and inspected nest occupation for 5 days. All six colonies moved a significant majority of their brood and workers into the more connected and compact nest network. Also, there was greater activity in the more connected and compact nest network within the first 20 minutes, showing that turtle ant colonies can quickly differentiate between more and less connected networks. However, most of their members were concentrated in one nest within the nest network. Uneven distribution of resources increases the risk of losing most of their resources in one chance event, suggesting that risk is not the only factor in their nest-choice.

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Nov 18th, 2:15 PM Nov 18th, 3:15 PM

Network structure and risk analysis in turtle ant nest choice

BSC-Ursa Minor 80

Social insect colonies have individual members with specialized roles that interact and contribute to the fitness of the whole colony. This quality makes them useful for understanding and modeling decision-making strategies that involve both individual and collective decisions. In particular, turtle ants (genus Cephalotes) are useful for understanding collective nest-defense strategies because of their specialized soldier caste. This study aimed to examine the risk analysis of Cepholotes varians and Cephalotes texanus in nest-choice. A single colony lives in multiple nests in trees, where nesting sites and the pathways between them are limited and frequently destroyed. Thus, we hypothesized that turtle ant colonies minimize the risk of losing access to a nest and its resources by choosing nest networks that are more connected and compact. We presented six turtle ant colonies with opportunities to colonize two different nest networks: one that was more connected and compact and one that was less so. We filmed colony movement for 12 hours and inspected nest occupation for 5 days. All six colonies moved a significant majority of their brood and workers into the more connected and compact nest network. Also, there was greater activity in the more connected and compact nest network within the first 20 minutes, showing that turtle ant colonies can quickly differentiate between more and less connected networks. However, most of their members were concentrated in one nest within the nest network. Uneven distribution of resources increases the risk of losing most of their resources in one chance event, suggesting that risk is not the only factor in their nest-choice.