Oecologia

, Volume 97, Issue 2, pp 202–208 | Cite as

Territory defense by the ant Azteca trigona: maintenance of an arboreal ant mosaic

  • Eldridge S. Adams
Original Paper

Abstract

Mosaics of exclusive foraging territories, produced by intra-and interspecific competition, are commonly reported from arboreal ant communities throughout the tropics and appear to represent a recurring feature of community organization. This paper documents an ant mosaic within mangrove forests of Panama and examines the behavioral mechanisms by which one of the common species, Azteca trigona, maintains its territories. Most of the mangrove canopy is occupied by mutually exclusive territories of the ants A. trigona, A. velox, A. instabilis, and Crematogaster brevispinosa. When foraging workers of A. trigona detect workers of these territorial species, they organize an alarm recruitment response using pheromonal and tactile displays. Nestmates are attracted over short distances by an alarm pheromone originating in the pygidial gland and over longer distances by a trail pheromone produced by the Pavan's gland. Recruits are simultaneously alerted by a tactile display. No evidence was found for chemical marking of the territory. Major workers are proportionally more abundant at territory borders than on foraging trails in the interior of the colony. The mechanisms of territory defense in A. trigona are remarkably similar to those of ecologically analogous ants in the Old World tropics.

Key words

Ants Territoriality Azteca Pheromones 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams ES (1990) Boundary disputes in the territorial ant Azteca trigona: effects of asymmetries in colony size. Anim Behav 39:321–328Google Scholar
  2. Adams ES, Levings SC (1987) Territory size and population limits in mangrove termites. Anim Ecol 56:1069–1081Google Scholar
  3. Brown ES (1959) Immature nutfall of coconuts in the Solomon Islands. I. Distribution of nutfall in relation to that of Amblypelta and of certain species of ants. Bull Ent Res 50:97–133Google Scholar
  4. Brown ES (1960) Immature nutfall of coconuts in the Solomon Islands. II. Changes in ant populations, and their relation to vegetation. Bull Ent Res 50:523–558Google Scholar
  5. Cammaerts MC, Morgan ED, Tyler R (1977) Territorial marking in the ant Myrmica rubra. Biol Behav 2:263–272Google Scholar
  6. Carroll CR (1979) A comparative study of two ant faunas: The stem-nesting ant communities of Liberia, West Africa, and Costa Rica, Central America. Am Nat 113:551–561Google Scholar
  7. Cole AC Jr, Jones JW Jr (1948) A study of the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Fab.). Am Midl Nat 39:641–651Google Scholar
  8. Detrain C, Pasteels JM (1992) Caste polyethism and collective defense in the ant, Pheidole pallidula: the outcome of quantitative differences in recruitment. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 29:405–412Google Scholar
  9. Feener DH Jr (1988) Effects of parasites on foraging and defense behavior of a termitophagous ant, Pheidole titanis Wheeler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 22:421–427Google Scholar
  10. Hölldobler B (1979) Territories of the African weaver ant (Oecophylla longinoda (Latreille)): A field study. Z Tierpsychol 51:201–213Google Scholar
  11. Hölldobler B (1981) Foraging and spatiotemporal territories in the honey ant Myrmecocystus mimicus Wheeler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 9:301–314Google Scholar
  12. Hölldobler B (1983) Territorial behavior in the green tree ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) Biotropica 15:241–250Google Scholar
  13. Hölldobler B, Lumsden CJ (1980) Territorial strategies in ants. Science 210:732–739Google Scholar
  14. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1978) The multiple recruitment systems of the African weaver ant Oecophylla longinoda (Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 3:19–60Google Scholar
  15. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1990) The ants. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  16. Jackson DA (1984) Ant distribution patterns in a Cameroonian cocoa plantation: investigation of the ant mosaic hypothesis. Oecologia 62:318–324Google Scholar
  17. Jaffe K (1986) Nestmate recognition and territorial marking in Solenopsis geminata and in some Attini. In: Lofgren CS, Van der Meer, RK (eds) Fire Ants and leaf-cutter ants: Biology and management. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, pp 211–222Google Scholar
  18. Jutsum AR, Cherrett JM, Fisher M (1981) Interactions between the fauna of citrus trees in Trinidad and the ants Atta cephalotes and Azteca sp. J Appl Ecol 18:187–195Google Scholar
  19. Leston D (1973a) Ecological consequences of the tropical ant mosaic. Proc 7th Internat Congress of the IUSSI, London: 235–242Google Scholar
  20. Leston D (1973b) The ant mosaic-tropical tree crops and the limiting of pests and diseases. PANS 19:311–341Google Scholar
  21. Leston D (1978) A neotropical ant mosaic. Ann Entomol Soc Am 71:649–653Google Scholar
  22. MacKay WP, Vinson SB (1989) A guide to species identification of New World ants. Sociobiology 16:3–47Google Scholar
  23. Majer JD (1972) The ant mosaic in Ghana cocoa farms. Bull Ent Res 62:151–160Google Scholar
  24. Majer JD (1976a) The ant mosaic in Ghana cocoa farms: Further structural considerations. J Appl Ecol 13:145–155Google Scholar
  25. Majer JD (1976b) The maintenance of the ant mosaic in Ghana cocoa farms. J Appl Ecol 13:123–144Google Scholar
  26. Rai BK (1977) Damage to coconut palms by Azteca sp. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and insecticidal control with bait, in Guyana. Bull Ent Res 67:175–183Google Scholar
  27. Room PM (1971) The relative distribution of ant species in Ghana's cocoa farms. J Anim Eco 140:735–751Google Scholar
  28. Room PM (1975a) Diversity and organization of the ground foraging ant faunas of forest, grassland and tree crops in Papua New Guinea. Aust J Zool 23:71–89Google Scholar
  29. Room PM (1975b) Relative distribution of ant species in cocoa plantations in Papua New Guinea. J Appl Ecol 12:47–61Google Scholar
  30. Salzemann A, Jaffe K (1990) On the territorial behaviour of field colonies of the leaf-cutting ant Atta laevigata (Hymenoptera: Myrmicinae). J Insect Physiol 36:133–138Google Scholar
  31. Seeley TD (1985) Honeybee ecology. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  32. Strickland AH (1951) The entomology of swollen shoot of cacao. II. The bionomics and ecology of the species involved. Bull Ent Res 42:65–103Google Scholar
  33. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1981) Biometry, 2nd Ed. W.H. Freeman and Co. San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  34. Traniello JFA (1980) Colony specificity in the trail pheromone of an ant. Naturwissenschaften 67:361Google Scholar
  35. Traniello JFA (1981) Enemy deterrence in the recruitment strategy of a termite: soldier-organized foraging in Nasutitermes costalis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 78:1976–1979Google Scholar
  36. Traniello JFA (1983) Social organization and foraging success in Lasius neoniger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): behavioral and ecological aspects of recruitment communication. Oecologia 59:94–100Google Scholar
  37. Vanderplank FL (1960) The bionomics and ecology of the red tree ant, Oecophylla sp. and its relationship to the coconut bug Pseudotheraptus wayi Brown (Coreidae). J Anim Ecol 29:15–33Google Scholar
  38. Way MJ (1953) The relationship between certain ant species with particular reference to biological control of the coreid, Theraptus sp. Bull Ent Res 44:669–691Google Scholar
  39. Way MJ (1954) Studies on the life history and ecology of the ant Oecophylla longinoda Latreille. Bull Ent Res 45:93–112Google Scholar
  40. Weber NA (1946) Dimorphism in the African Oecophylla worker and an anomaly (Hym: Formicidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 39:7–10Google Scholar
  41. Weber NA (1949) The functional significance of dimorphism in the African weaver ant, Oecophylla. Ecology 30:397–400Google Scholar
  42. Wheeler JW, Evans SL, Blum MS, Torgerson RL (1975) Cyclopentyl ketones: Identification and function in Azteca ants. Science 187:254–255Google Scholar
  43. Wheeler DE (1986) Polymorphism and division of labor in Azteca chartifex laticeps (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J Kans Entomol Soc 59:542–548Google Scholar
  44. Wilson EO (1976) The organization of colony defense in the ant Pheidole dentata Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 1:63–81Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eldridge S. Adams
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Smithsomian Tropical Research InstituteMiamiUSA

Personalised recommendations