, Volume 96, Issue 7, pp 857–861 | Cite as

Decision rules for egg recognition are related to functional roles and chemical cues in the queenless ant Dinoponera quadriceps

  • Ivelize C. Tannure-NascimentoEmail author
  • Fabio S. NascimentoEmail author
  • José O. Dantas
  • Ronaldo Zucchi
Short Communication


The capacity to distinguish colony members from strangers is a key component in social life. In social insects, this extends to the brood and involves discrimination of queen eggs. Chemical substances communicate colony affiliation for both adults and brood; thus, in theory, all colony members should be able to recognize fellow nestmates. In this study, we investigate the ability of Dinoponera quadriceps workers to discriminate nestmate and non-nestmate eggs based on cuticular hydrocarbon composition. We analyzed whether cuticular hydrocarbons present on the eggs provide cues of discrimination. The results show that egg recognition in D. quadriceps is related to both age and the functional role of workers. Brood care workers were able to distinguish nestmate from non-nestmate eggs, while callow and forager workers were unable to do so.


Dinoponera quadriceps Functional roles Egg recognition 



We thank Margaret Couvillon, Hans Kelstrup, and anonymous referees for the comments on the manuscript and suggestions. We also are grateful to Isabel C. Turatti for the chemical analysis of eggs. Fapesp and CNPq support the research of authors. The experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, FFCLRPUniversidade de São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia, CCBSUniversidade Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil

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