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Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 119–125 | Cite as

Sequential co-operative load transport in the seed-harvesting ant Messor barbarus

  • J. L. Reyes
  • J. Fernández Haeger

Summary:

A mechanism for co-operative load transport was detected in the seed-harvesting ant Messor barbarus. Workers co-operated sequentially, transferring the load from one to another and thus forming what might be termed a transport chain. Although most of the colony's workers could have transported loads unaided, co-operation was prompted by the appearance of high loading ratios in the vicinity of the food source. The first worker in such a chain tended to be small or medium-sized, with a high loading ratio, while the last was larger, and had a correspondingly lower loading ratio. This strategy was of major benefit to the colony, in that it considerably reduced the time required for transport to the nest.

Key words: Granivorous ants, foraging, cooperation, seed mass, Messor barbarus. 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Reyes
    • 1
  • J. Fernández Haeger
    • 1
  1. 1. Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, E-14071 Córdoba, Spain, e-mail: J.L.R:Joaquin@lucano.uco.es; J.F.H:bv1fehaj@uco.es ES

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