Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 153–160 | Cite as

Individual and colony level choice during relocation to unequal target nests in an Indian queenless ant Diacamma indicum

Research Article


Most organisms need to make temporal and spatial choices pertaining to a wide range of activities like mating, feeding and resting. Arriving at a consensus on facing a choice could be even more challenging in social insects as inputs from multiple individuals need to be consolidated. Colony relocation is one such event that showcases the interplay between individual inputs and colony level choices. Diacamma indicum is a ponerine ant that uses tandem running for colony relocation. A small subset of the colony become transporters by either transporting brood or males in their mandibles or by becoming tandem leaders and leading all adult females via tandem running to the new nest. Previous studies show the importance of these individuals in the relocation process and document the presence of leader following leader events, which may be a means for information exchange among leaders. The present set of experiments evaluate colony relocation dynamics in the context of two unequal, but equidistant target nests by following 1135 uniquely marked ants. When faced with a light and dark nest, indecision was minimal and all ten colonies relocated to the dark nest. Knowledge of both targets was not crucial for choice of the better option as less than 10% of transporters had visited both targets before initiating transports. A transporter’s latency to start transportation was not influenced by the number of individuals present at the target nest or by the mode of discovery; independent exploration or through leader following leader event. Further the contribution of dependent transporters was found to be significantly lower than independent transporters. Examining decision making by individual transporter and how they influence colony level choice across this simple scenario will enable in understanding the versatility of tandem running recruitment.


Tandem running Decision making Nest choice Transport-latency Colony cohesion 



We thank Mr. Basudev Ghosh for assistance in collection and maintenance of the D. indicum colonies.


The project was funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (Grant No. SR/FT/LS-179/2009). AK received funding from the University Grants Commission, Government of India and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India, respectively.

Compliance with ethical standards


All our experiments complied with the regulations for animal care in India.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing or financial interests.

Supplementary material

40_2017_596_MOESM1_ESM.docx (411 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 410 KB)


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behaviour and Ecology Lab, Department of Biological SciencesIndian Institute of Science Education and Research, KolkataMohanpurIndia

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