An informational analysis of the alarm communication by drumming behavior in nests of carpenter ants (Camponotus, Formicidae, Hymenoptera)
- 68 Downloads
The influence of an artificial drumming signal on the activities of worker ants and on the frequency distribution of activities inside an undisturbed laboratory colony of C. herculeanus L. was investigated by applying the mathematical theory of communication.
The measure of uncertainty as to the activities of worker ants at any given time (initial act) is 1.4 bit. After a drumming signal has been applied, the reactions of the ants (second act) cause a decrease to 0.84 bit. The transinformation between first and second acts is 1.07 bit without and 0.48 bit with a drumming signal between the acts. In reference to the proportion of activity groups, the information transferred to the worker ants as a group is 0.043 bit.
The information transferred by the signal to the worker ants as individuals was calculated by referring to the proportion of the two-act sequences (uncertainty 1.9 bit) with and without drumming. The result is 0.12 bit, which is 12% of the signal's information content (1 bit). It differs widely between sub-groups as defined by initial activity (0.005–0.61 bit); the signal reduces the uncertainty as to the behavior of the animals by 0.5%–35%. The information transferred by signals of lower acceleration amplitudes is less than that transferred by higher acceleration amplitudes. Sexual animals react similarly to worker ants, but are less sensitive.
Besides an increased tendency to changes of activity two typical reactions to the signal occurred: a “freezing” reaction and a reaction characterized by fast, aggressive runs (57% and 6% respectively of the transferred information). The first was interpreted as an unspecific reaction to vibration stimuli, which is adaptive only outside the nests; the second as a specific “alarm” response.
The kind of alarm responses to the drumming signal is highly dependent on the situational context. The drumming communication was thus classified as a combined alarm and alarm modulator system.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Attneave, F.: Applications of information theory to psychology. Bern-Stuttgart: Huber 1965Google Scholar
- Cherry, C.: On human communication. New York: Wiley 1957Google Scholar
- Jander, R.: Über die Ethometrie von Schlüsselreizen, die Theorie der telotaktischen Wahlhandlung und das Potenzprinzip der terminalen Cumulation bei Arthropoden. J. comp. Physiol. 59, 319–356 (1968)Google Scholar
- Markl, H., Fuchs, S.: Klopfsignale mit Alarmfunktion bei Roßameisen (Camponotus, Formicinae, Hymenoptera). J. comp. Physiol. 76, 204–225 (1972)Google Scholar
- Peirce, C.S.: The collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Vols. I–VI, C. Hartshorne, P. Weiss, Vols. VII and VIII (ed. A.W. Burks). Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1931–1935, 1958Google Scholar
- Sebeok, T.A.: Perspectives in zoosemiotics. Den Haag: Mouton 1972Google Scholar
- Shannon, C.E., Weaver, W.: The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press 1964Google Scholar
- Smith, J.W.: Message-meaning analysis. In: Animal communication (ed. Th.A. Sebeok), p. 44ff. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1968Google Scholar