Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 93–96 | Cite as

Colony size does not predict foraging distance in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus: a puzzle for standard scaling models

  • S. E. BengstonEmail author
  • A. Dornhaus


Body size is often positively correlated with ecologically relevant traits such as fecundity, survival, resource requirements, and home range size. Ant colonies, in some respects, behave like organisms, and their colony size is thought to be a significant predictor of many behavioral and ecological traits similar to body size in unitary organisms. In this study, we test the relationship between colony size and field foraging distance in the ant species Temnothorax rugatulus. These ants forage in the leaf litter presumably for small arthropod prey. We found colonies did not differ significantly in their foraging distances, and colony size is not a significant predictor of foraging distance. This suggests that large colonies may not exhaust local resources or that foraging trips are not optimized for minimal distance, and thus that food may not be the limiting resource in this species. This study shows T. rugatulus are behaving in ways that differ from existing models of scaling.


Home range Colony size Social insects Foraging behavior 



We would like to thank National Science Foundation (Grant No. IOS 0841756) for funding, Chantal Binder who assisted in the location, tracking and collection of the ant colonies and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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