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Diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in wood ant (Formica polyctena) nest temperature in two geographically distant populations along a south – north gradient

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Abstract.

Temperature changes were recorded continuously in eleven nests of Formica polyctena located in Southern Finland and the Czech Republic. Nest temperatures were recorded in the Czech site from 2003 to 2005 and in Finland during 2004 – 2005. Seasonal changes in nest temperature were very similar in both locations. During summer, the ants maintained a relatively high and constant temperature in their nest in both locations. Summer nest temperatures in Finland were higher than those in Czech during 2004 –2005 but did not differ from those in Czech during 2003– 2004. This indicated that the geographical differences were less important than difference between seasons. Nest temperature peaked in June. During summer, daily temperature fluctuations were significantly lower in Finland than in Czechia probably due to shorter nights in Finland. Apparent differences in daily temperature patterns were found in nests with different moisture in both locations. In dry nests, temperature peaked in the evening and decreased overnight, whereas the apparent increase was delayed to the night in wet nests. The spring increase in temperature in wet nests was much steeper that that in the dry ones when whole spring period is considered. During one day, temperatures fluctuated much more in dry nests than in wet ones. These differences seem to be caused by differences in thermal capacity between dry and wet nests.

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Correspondence to J. Frouz.

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Received 24 July 2006; revised 19 February 2007; accepted 19 May 2007.

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Frouz, J., Finer, L. Diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in wood ant (Formica polyctena) nest temperature in two geographically distant populations along a south – north gradient. Insect. Soc. 54, 251–259 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-007-0939-4

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Keywords:

  • Ant nests
  • thermoregulation
  • Formica rufa group
  • Finland
  • Czech Republic