, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 365-380

Agonistic relationships among sympatric mediterranean ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

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Abstract

The potential aggressiveness of nine ant species belonging to the same community was estimated by means of two laboratory approaches: individual confrontations and group confrontations. Interspecific aggressiveness was not directly related to size of species in individual tests, although in group tests mortality of smaller ants increased with increasing size difference between the opponents. Tempo was related to the defense strategy of species (low-tempo species used immobility as a mechanism to avoid attacks, while high-tempo species tended to escape when coming into contact with more aggressive ones), but not with their potential aggressiveness: the most aggressive ants in individual and group tests were both low-tempo and high-tempo species when only these two categories were considered. No specific level of aggression was related to the subfamily to which the species belong (both myrmicines and formicines dominated in individual and group tests) or to the degree of taxonomic similarity between species.