Effect of substrate roughness on load selection in the seed-harvester ant Messor barbarus L. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

Abel Bernadou, Xavier Espadaler, Virginie Dos-Reis, Vincent Fourcassié

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the effect of substrate roughness on load selection in the seed-harvester ant Messor barbarus. Ants were forced to travel either on sand or on gravel to reach a seed patch containing seed fragments of different weights. We hypothesized that foragers travelling on a rough substrate could either increase their load as a result of the increased distance travelled (due to a more sinuous path and an increase in the vertical component of the path) or decrease their load because of the anticipated difficulty of moving with a heavy load on a rough surface. Our results were consistent with neither of these hypotheses: Load selection by ants did not depend on the roughness of the substrate encountered during their outbound trip. The main effect of substrate roughness was to slow down the progression of the ants and increase their probability of dropping or transferring heavy seeds on their way back to the nest, thus resulting in an overall reduction of the rate of seed return to the nest. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1763-1771
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume65
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

Keywords

  • Ant
  • Foraging
  • Load transport
  • Messor barbarus
  • Substrate roughness

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