Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 48–54

Between-species differences of behavioural repertoire of castes in the ant genus Pheidole: a methodological artefact?

Research article

DOI: 10.1007/s00040-003-0704-2

Cite this article as:
Sempo, G. & Detrain, C. Insect. Soc. (2004) 51: 48. doi:10.1007/s00040-003-0704-2


This study highlights the influence of sampling size on the interpretation of between castes division of labour in the dimorphic ant genus Pheidole. We show that data analyses based on rarefaction curves provide better estimates of caste repertoire sizes. Weighted observations of the two worker castes of Pheidole pallidula reveals that the behavioural repertoire of majors is far more extended than expected. Indeed, majors are not restricted to defence, seed milling or food storage but can additionally participate to within nest activities by carrying out 69% of the minors’ behavioural repertoire including brood care. Besides, we show that inter-specific variation in the size of majors’ behavioural repertoire could simply result from differences in the number of majors observed. Therefore, the ergonomic prediction that the repertoire size of one caste should be correlated to its numerical representation in the colony needs to be re-examined considering between-castes differences in the sampling effort.

Pheidole ergonomic theory division of labour caste sampling effect 

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser-Verlag Basel 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’ Eco-éthologie évolutiveUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations