, Volume 92, Issue 7, pp 324–327 | Cite as

Influence of interspecific competition on the recruitment behavior and liquid food transport in the tramp ant species Pheidole megacephala

  • Alain Dejean
  • Julien Le Breton
  • Jean Pierre Suzzoni
  • Jérôme Orivel
  • Corrie Saux-Moreau
Short Communication


This study was conducted on the reactions of Pheidole megacephala scouts when finding liquid food sources situated on territories marked by competing dominant ant species or on unmarked, control areas to see if the number of recruited nestmates is affected and if soldiers behave in ways adapted to the situation. We show that scouts recruit more nestmates, particularly soldiers, on marked rather than on unmarked areas. This recruitment allows P. megacephala to organize the defence and rapid depletion of these food sources prior to any contact with competitors. Soldiers can carry liquid foods both (1) in their crops like other Myrmicinae and (2), in a new finding concerning myrmicine ants, under their heads and thoraxes like certain poneromorph genera because the droplets adhere through surface tension strengths. Later, the liquids stored in the crop are distributed to nestmates through regurgitations during trophallaxis and the external droplets are distributed through “social buckets”, or the mode of liquid food transfer common in poneromorphs. Their flexibility to use or not use the latter technique, based on the situation, corroborates other reports that Pheidole soldiers have a relatively large behavioral repertoire.


Liquid Food Marked Area High Sugar Concentration Recruitment Behavior Neutral Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to Dr B. Bolton for the identification of the ants, and to Andrea Dejean for proofreading the manuscript. This work was supported by a CAMPUS project of the French Ministry of Cooperation (108/CD/90)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alain Dejean
    • 1
  • Julien Le Breton
    • 2
  • Jean Pierre Suzzoni
    • 1
  • Jérôme Orivel
    • 1
  • Corrie Saux-Moreau
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Evolution et Diversité Biologique, UMR-CNRS 5174Université Toulouse IIIToulouse Cedex 4France
  2. 2.Laboratory of Sub-Tropical Zoology, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  3. 3.Museum of Comparative ZoologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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