A longitudinal study of nest occupancy, trail networks and foraging in a polydomous wood ant population.



Burns, Dominic DR, Franks, Daniel W, Parr, Catherine ORCID: 0000-0003-1627-763X, Hawke, Carl, Ellis, Samuel and Robinson, EJH
(2020) A longitudinal study of nest occupancy, trail networks and foraging in a polydomous wood ant population. Insectes Sociaux, 2020.

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Abstract

Most ant colonies live in a single nest (monodomy) or a group of nests (polydomy). However, the length of time for which nests are inhabited varies significantly between different species. Although colonies of some species frequently move nest sites, in others, colonies inhabit the same nest or group of nests for many years. Similarly, in some species foraging and resource-sharing trails are highly dynamic, while in other species trails are used for years. Wood ants are a group of keystone species that inhabit many northern hemisphere woodlands, where they are important predators of invertebrates and indirectly act as herbivores through the farming of aphids. Wood ant colonies exhibit both monodomy and polydomy, and can inhabit nests for many years. Trails in wood ant colonies are also thought to be relatively stable. However, information about colony dynamics is mostly anecdotal as, until now, no longitudinal datasets have been collected. In this study, we collected data from ten polydomous wood ant colonies annually for 8 years and a subset of four colonies 16 times over 2 years. We found that most polydomous wood ant nests are abandoned in the first 2 years after being constructed and are more likely to be abandoned in the latter part of the active season. However, the rate of nest abandonment decreases after 2 years and is lower in larger nests. We also found that wood ant trails are relatively static within an active season and become more static later in the season as trails become established.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wood ants, Polydomy, Formica lugubris, Longitudinal studies, Nest foundation
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2020 09:54
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2021 19:10
DOI: 10.1007/s00040-020-00777-2
Open Access URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00040...
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URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3093545