Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 164–171

Directed Aerial Descent Behavior in African Canopy Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)


DOI: 10.1007/s10905-008-9116-5

Cite this article as:
Yanoviak, S.P., Fisher, B.L. & Alonso, A. J Insect Behav (2008) 21: 164. doi:10.1007/s10905-008-9116-5


Several species of neotropical ants direct their aerial descent toward tree trunks during a fall from the forest canopy. The primary goal of this study was to determine if afrotropical arboreal ants exhibit similar gliding behavior. Ants were collected from nine tree crowns in late secondary forest at a hydrocarbon extraction site near Gamba, Gabon. Of the 32 species tested, the behavior was observed in five Cataulacus spp. and three Camponotus spp., making this the first report of gliding in African ants. Aerial glide performance (horizontal distance traveled per unit vertical drop distance) decreased with increasing body size among species and among individuals of Cataulacus erinaceus. Characteristics of directed descent behavior in C. erinaceous were very similar to those of the neotropical ant Cephalotes atratus.


Body sizecanopyGabonglidingtropical forest

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Medical Entomology LaboratoryUniversity of FloridaVero BeachUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyCalifornia Academy of SciencesSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Smithsonian InstitutionMonitoring and Assessing Biodiversity ProgramWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of Arkansas at Little RockLittle RockUSA