, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 76-83

Raiding and emigration dynamics in the ponerine army ant Leptogenys distinguenda (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

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Field and laboratory observations demonstrate that Leptogenys distinguenda is characterized by typical army ant behavior. Like in the "classical" army ants from the subfamilies Ecitoninae, Dorylinae and Aenictinae, raiding and emigration behavior are closely linked. The direction of raids can be altered in field experiments to a wide extent by offering ample food, suggesting it is highly influenced by the patchiness of prey. The sum of recruitments coming from one direction and the recruitment overrun are primarily responsible for the spatial development and the extension of raids. Emigration frequency can be suppressed by overfeeding a colony in the field. This result is interpreted as a secondary effect of reduced swarming activity, which gets suppressed as well in the same experiment. The discovery of a suitable nest site is considered the proximate stimulus for emigration, and the best explored areas are those that have been most thoroughly raided. As a result, emigrations are likely to lead into areas with high prey densities.