Advertisement

Intercolony distance predicts the decision to rescue or attack conspecifics in weaver ants

  • F. M. K. Uy
  • J. D. Adcock
  • S. F. Jeffries
  • E. Pepere
Research Article

Abstract

Group formation and recognition mechanisms can strongly influence the decision to cooperate or attack in animal societies. Therefore, testing how individuals recognize group membership, and the decision to cooperate or attack during social interactions is critical to understanding the evolution of sociality. We explore decision-making in the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina, a highly territorial and also cooperative species. Here, we report a previously undescribed rescue behavior for weaver ants, and determine the role of distance and group membership in residents’ decisions to either rescue or attack conspecifics in distress. First, we tested if residents preferentially rescued nestmates and attacked non-nestmates. Our results show that rescue was more likely for nestmates; however, surprisingly, conspecifics from neighboring colonies were rescued in 43% of the distress trials. Furthermore, attacks became more frequent as distance between colonies increased showing a dear enemy effect, which may be explained by familiarity, odor recognition, and/or relatedness. Our work exploring the factors that influence the decision to rescue or attack provides novel evidence to understand the underlying selective pressures that shape decisions of cooperation or conflict in highly cooperative societies.

Keywords

Attack Conflict Cooperation Dear enemy Rescue Oecophylla smaragdina 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Metereology for permit RP/2014/002 to conduct fieldwork in the Solomon Islands, the Fagakoro community for access to their land, and the Manutage community for logistical assistance in Star Harbour. Johnson Pepere, George Wabeasi, James Suafuria and Lonsdale Taka provided assistance during fieldwork. Marc Seid, Al Uy, William Searcy, and members of the Uy and Searcy labs provided comments to improve earlier versions of the manuscript. This study was supported by the Biology Department and College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami to FMKU, and an Aresty Fund Scholarship awarded to SFJ.

Supplementary material

40_2018_674_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 17 kb)

References

  1. Adams ES (1990) Boundary disputes in the territorial ant Azteca trigona: effects of asymmetries in colony size. Anim Behav 39:321–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Azuma N, Ogata K, Kikuchi T, Higashi S (2006) Phylogeography of Asian weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina. Ecol Res 21:126–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bee MA (2003) A test of the “dear enemy effect” in the strawberry dart-poison frog (Dendrobates pumilio). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:601–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benedek K, Kóbori OT (2014) Nasty neighbor’effect in Formica pratensis Retz. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). North West. J Zool 10(2):245–250Google Scholar
  5. Bourke AF, Franks NR (1995) Social evolution in ants. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown JL (1969) Territorial behavior and population regulation in birds: a review and re-evaluation. Wilson Bull 81:293–329Google Scholar
  7. Bruschini C, Cervo R, Cini A, Pieraccini G, Pontieri L, Signorotti L, Turillazzi S (2011) Cuticular hydrocarbons rather than peptides are responsible for nestmate recognition in Polistes dominulus. Chem Senses 36:715–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christensen C, Radford AN (2018) Dear enemies or nasty neighbors? Causes and consequences of variation in the responses of group-living species to territorial intrusions. Behav Ecol 29:1004–1013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crozier RH, Newey PS, Schluens EA, Robson SK (2010) A masterpiece of evolution–Oecophylla weaver ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecol News 13(13):57–71Google Scholar
  10. Czechowski W, Godziñska EJ, Kozłowski MW (2002) Rescue behavior shown by workers of Formica sanguinea Latr., F. fusca L. and F. cinerea Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in response to their nestmates caught by an ant lion larva. Ann Zool 52:423–31Google Scholar
  11. Dani FR (2009) Cuticular lipids as semiochemicals in paper wasps and other social insects. Ann Zool Fennici 500–514Google Scholar
  12. Dimarco RD, Farji-Brener AG, Premoli AC (2010) Dear enemy phenomenon in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex lobicornis: behavioral and genetic evidence. Behav Ecol 21:304–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dugatkin LA (1997) Cooperation among animals: an evolutionary perspective. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  14. Errard C, Hefetz A, Jaisson P (2006) Social discrimination tuning in ants: template formation and chemical similarity. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 59:353–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Faulkes CG, Bennett NC (2001) Family values: group dynamics and social control of reproduction in African mole-rats. Trends Ecol Evol 16:184–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fletcher DJ, Michener CD (1987) Kin recognition in animals. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Frank ET, Schmitt T, Hovestadt T, Mitesser O, Stiegler J, Linsenmair KE (2017) Saving the injured: rescue behavior in the termite-hunting ant Megaponera analis. Sci Adv 3:e1602187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Frank ET, Wehrhahn M, Linsenmair KE (2018) Wound treatment and selective help in a termite-hunting ant. Proc R Soc B 1872:20172457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gamboa GJ (1978) Intraspecific defense: advantage of social cooperation among paper wasp foundresses. Science 199:1463–1465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gaston A (1978) The evolution of group territorial behavior and cooperative breeding. Am Nat 112:1091–1100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Grant PR (1998) Evolution on islands. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  22. Heinze J, Hölldobler B, Peeters C (1994) Conflict and cooperation in ant societies. Naturwissenschaften 81:489–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Holldobler B (1983) Territorial behavior in the green tree ant (Oecophylla smaragdina). Biotropica 241–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hölldobler B, Lumsden CJ (1980) Territorial strategies in ants. Science 210:732–739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1990) The ants. Harvard University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hollis KL, Nowbahari E (2013) A comparative analysis of precision rescue behaviour in sand-dwelling ants. Anim Behav 85:537–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Isbell LA (1991) Contest and scramble competition: patterns of female aggression and ranging behavior among primates. Behav Ecol 2:143–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jaeger RG (1981) Dear enemy recognition and the costs of aggression between salamanders. Am Nat 117:962–974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kamhi JF, Nunn K, Robson SK, Traniello JF (2015) Polymorphism and division of labour in a socially complex ant: neuromodulation of aggression in the Australian weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina. Proc R Soc B 1811:20150704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lokkers C (1990) Colony dynamics of the green tree ant (Oecophylla smaragdina Fab.) in a seasonal tropical climate. James Cook University, TownsvilleGoogle Scholar
  31. McCreery HF, Breed M (2014) Cooperative transport in ants: a review of proximate mechanisms. Insectes Soc 61:99–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Miler K, Symonowicz B, Godzińska EJ (2017a) Increased risk proneness or social withdrawal? The effects of shortened life expectancy on the expression of rescue behavior in workers of the ant Formica cinerea (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J Insect Behav 30:632–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Miler K, Yahya BE, Czarnoleski M (2017b) Pro-social behaviour of ants depends on their ecological niche—rescue actions in species from tropical and temperate regions. Behav Process 144:1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Monnin T, Ratnieks FL, Brandão CR (2003) Reproductive conflict in animal societies: hierarchy length increases with colony size in queenless ponerine ants. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:71–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moore D, Liebig J (2010) Mechanisms of social regulation change across colony development in an ant. BMC Evol Biol 10:328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mora-Kepfer F (2014) Context-dependent acceptance of non-nestmates in a primitively eusocial insect. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 68:363–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Müller CA, Manser MB (2007) ‘Nasty neighbours’ rather than ‘dear enemies’ in a social carnivore. Proc R Soc B 274:959–965CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Müller JK, Eggert A-K, Elsner T (2003) Nestmate recognition in burying beetles: the “breeder’s badge” as a cue used by females to distinguish their mates from male intruders. Behav Ecol 14:212–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Newey P (2011) Not one odour but two: a new model for nestmate recognition. J Theor Biol 270:7–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Newey P, Robson S, Crozier R (2008) Near-infrared spectroscopy identifies the colony and nest of origin of weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina. Insectes Soc 55:171–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Newey PS, Robson SK, Crozier RH (2010) Weaver ants Oecophylla smaragdina encounter nasty neighbors rather than dear enemies. Ecology 91:2366–2372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nowbahari E, Hollis KL (2010) Rescue behavior: distinguishing between rescue, cooperation and other forms of altruistic behavior. Commun Integr Biol 3:77–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nowbahari E, Scohier A, Durand JL, Hollis KL (2009) Ants, Cataglyphis cursor, use precisely directed rescue behavior to free entrapped relatives. PLoS One 4(8):e6573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Peng R, Christian K, Gibb K (1998) Locating queen ant nests in the green ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Insectes Soc 45:477–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Queller DC, Strassmann JE (1998) Kin selection and social insects. Bioscience 48:165–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. R Development Core Team (2011) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. http://www.R-project.org
  47. Rainbow WJ (1913) Arachnida from the Solomon Islands. Rec Aust Mus 10:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Reeve HK (1989) The evolution of conspecific acceptance thresholds. Am Nat 133:407–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sachs L (1992) Angewandte statistik: anwendung statischr methoden. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schlick-Steiner BC et al (2006) A multidisciplinary approach reveals cryptic diversity in Western Palearctic Tetramorium ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Mol Phylogenetics Evol 40:259–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schlüns E, Wegener B, Schlüns H, Azuma N, Robson S, Crozier R (2009) Breeding system, colony and population structure in the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina. Mol Ecol 18:156–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Singer TL (1998) Roles of hydrocarbons in the recognition systems of insects. Am Zool 38:394–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stacey PB, Koenig WD (1990) Cooperative breeding in birds: long term studies of ecology and behaviour. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stubben C, Milligan B (2007) Estimating and analyzing demographic models using the popbio package in R. J Stat Softw 22:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Taylor K, Visvader A, Nowbahari E, Hollis KL (2013) Precision rescue behavior in North American ants. Evol Psych 11:147470491301100312Google Scholar
  56. Tierney A, Andrews K, Happer K, White M (2013) Dear enemies and nasty neighbors in crayfish: Effects of social status and sex on responses to familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics. Behav Process 99:47–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Traniello JF, Robson SK (1995) Trail and territorial communication in social insects. In: Chemical ecology of insects. pp 241–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ward A, Webster M (2016) Sociality: the behaviour of group-living animals. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. West SA, Griffin AS, Gardner A (2007) Evolutionary explanations for cooperation. Curr Biol 17:R661–R672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. West SA, Pen I, Griffin AS (2002) Cooperation and competition between relatives. Science 296:72–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wilson EO (1971) The Insect Societies. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  62. Wilson EO (1975) Sociobiology: the new synthesis. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, The New SynthesisGoogle Scholar
  63. Ydenberg RC, Giraldeau L-A, Falls JB (1988) Neighbours, strangers, and the asymmetric war of attrition. Anim Behav 36:343–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Yusuf A, Gordon I, Crewe R, Pirk CWW (2014) Prey choice and raiding behaviour of the Ponerine ant Pachycondyla analis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae. J Nat Hist 48:345–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Cox Science CenterUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  2. 2.Nafinua Research StationFrigatebird IslandSolomon Islands

Personalised recommendations