Interference interactions and nest usurpation between two subordinate ant species

Xim Cerdá, Javier Retana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Camponotus foreli (Emery) and Cataglyphis iberica (Emery) are two sympatric, subordinate ant species that have been found to fight in attacks that usually conclude with the death of many workers of both species and with nest abandonment by C. iberica. These harassment episodes have been observed in two different areas and over many years of study. No such attacks of C. foreli were observed in the study areas against any other ant species, nor did any other ants attack C. iberica nests, and laboratory confrontations confirmed this specificity. These attacks neither eliminated C. iberica colonies, nor distanced them from C. foreli nests. Moreover, there was no real competition for food between the species: in an experiment where all C. iberica colonies were eliminated from an area, rates of prey and liquid food collection by C. foreli nests in the exclusion zone were similar to those found in the control zone with C. iberica, and the activity rhythms of C. foreli did not change in the absence of C. iberica. The hypothesis of competition for a nest site is more consistent. Both in the laboratory and the field, the most frequent outcome of these aggressive interactions was the occupation of the C. iberica nest by C. foreli. This behavior may be advantageous for C. foreli, because it is much less skilful at excavating than C. iberica. One of the chief concerns of this study is to show that such interference interactions, typical especially of dominant, very aggressive species, are also found between subordinate, apparently nonaggressive species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-583
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 1998


  • Aggressive interactions
  • Ant
  • Interference competition
  • Nest usurpation
  • Subordinate species


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