Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 425–438 | Cite as

Social organization in some primitive Australian ants. I.Nothomyrmecia macrops Clark

  • P. Jaisson
  • D. Fresneau
  • R. W. Taylor
  • A. Lenoir
Research Articles


Results of laboratory-based ethological studies on twoNothomyrmecia macrops colonies with individually marked workers are reported. Interactive behavioural acts constituted less than 1% of all those recorded, revealing a strong tendency by the ants not to engage in social contact. Very few workers performed queen-directed acts. They stayed near the queen, though seldom in direct contact. Division of labour was otherwise barely apparent, except that some individuals showed a propensity to guard the nest entrance. No exchange of food was observed between workers, workers and queen, or adults and larvae (apart from worker placement of prey items with larvae). A queen fed from aDrosophila carcass retrieved from the nest floor, without assistance from workers. Systematic scanned observations confirmed levels of inactivity higher than previously observed in ants (comprising almost 2/3 of recorded behavioural acts). The time budget for activities directed toward the immature stages was the same in both colonies, and fluctuated during the circadian period. Non-nestmate larvae added to worker groups were more frequently licked than nestmate larvae, but this might not involve the particular recognition of nestmateversus non-nestmate brood. These observations support the hypothesis thatNothomyrmecia is primitively eusocial, and of special significance in myrmecology.

Key words

Formicidae Nothomyrmecia evolution sociogram ethogram recognition 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Jaisson
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. Fresneau
    • 1
  • R. W. Taylor
    • 2
  • A. Lenoir
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d'Ethologie et Sociobiologie (URA CNRS n °667)Université Paris-NordVilletaneuseFrance
  2. 2.Division of EntomologyCSIROCanberraAustralia

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