Homing Behaviour in Polyergus rufescens Latr. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

Ethology (Impact Factor: 1.79). 01/2010; 102(1):99-108. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.1996.tb01107.x


Homing mechanisms of the European slave-making ant Polyergus rufescens Latr. are investigated by field experiments. The analysis of the behaviour and paths of both homing scouts and raiders after passive displacement showed that: i. Scouts probably home by using a path integration system based on celestial cues; and ii. Displaced raiders do not seem to adopt such a vectorial orientation mechanism. Moreover, we found that passively displaced scouts exhibit a systematic search strategy for the nest after a rectilinear path. By contrast, raiders perform a similar search pattern just after release. Similarities between Cataglyphis and Polyergus homing behaviour are discussed.

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    • "Wheather conditions influenced raiding activity: in fact, at the moment of raid onset, the sky was completely clear or only slightly cloudy; by contrast, in the raid-free days, it was raining or the sky was completely overcast. This seems to support the hypothesis that F. sanguinea workers, like those of some Polyergus species (Topoff et al., 1984; Grasso et al., 1996, 1997), use the position of the sun and polarized light, in addition to chemical cues, for scouting and orienting during raiding activity. "
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    ABSTRACT: Summary: In the European slave-making ant Polyergus rufescens, the occurrence of chemical strategies during the initial phase of dependent colony foundation or usurpation was investigated. To test this idea, we analysed the effect of the secretion of different glands (Dufour's, poison, pygidial, rectal, and mandibular) on the behaviour of workers of its common host species, Formica cunicularia (subgenus Serviformica). Workers of another species, Formica rufibarbis (Serviformica), were daubed with these extracts, and introduced into colony fragments of F. cunicularia. The results of a set of laboratory aggression test showed that the secretion of the mandibular, pygidial, rectal, and poison glands do not alter the characteristic aggressive reactions generally performed by resident workers against alien ants. By contrast, the Dufour's gland seems to play a crucial role in the appeasement of residents of the target host colony. In fact, its secretion drastically lowers the degree of overt attacks shown by F. cunicularia workers against the intruders. This chemical strategy probably allows an easier invasion and usurpation of host colonies by newly mated females of P. rufescens.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2000 · Insectes Sociaux
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the factors involved in the orientation of raiders of the European Amazon ant, Polyergus rufescensand how these factors are used by raiders during the different phases of slave-making expeditions. Ants at the head of the raiding column did not follow previously deposited chemical trails but oriented by celestial cues. Raiders in the middle of the column used celestial factors but were also strongly affected by the recruiting activity of the ants that preceded them. During the return trip, raiders used both chemical and celestial cues. The latter allowed the ants to assume the correct home direction while following the chemical trail. Perception of the ultraviolet band of the light spectrum was of crucial importance for the orientation of the raiders, during both the outbound and inbound journeys. This supports the hypothesis that P. rufescens workers, like other ants, perceive the pattern of polarized skylight in the ultraviolet range.Copyright 1997 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
    Full-text · Article · Jan 1998 · Animal Behaviour
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we report the results of a detailed study on the behavioral ecology of slave raiding and foraging activity in the European blood-red ant, Formica sanguinea Latr. The field study was conducted over an unbroken period of 78 days, during which the activity of two dulotic colonies of this facultative slave-maker was observed for 10 h each day. It was possible to observe 26 raids distributed over 23 days, among which 18 were followed by the sacking of nests belonging to the species F. cunicularia, F. fusca, and Lasius emarginatus, whereas 8 failed. Simple, continuous, and simultaneous raids occurred. We recorded the timing, frequency, distance, and direction of slave raids, including the number of participants and the type of booty. Particular attention was devoted to the scouting behavior and raiding organization. Moreover, every day, we observed foraging and predatory behavior, during which adult insects (mainly ants), seeds, and berries were retrieved to the dulotic colonies. On the basis of our observations F. sanguinea seems to be a very efficient slave-maker and predatory species of the Raptiformica subgenus. Moreover, its dulotic behavior may be regarded as a continuation and an expansion of its foraging and predatory behavior, as predicted by Darwin's hypothesis for the origin and evolution of slavery in ants.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2000 · Journal of Insect Behavior
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