, Volume 98, Issue 8, pp 651–659 | Cite as

Tandem carrying, a new foraging strategy in ants: description, function, and adaptive significance relative to other described foraging strategies

  • Benoit GuénardEmail author
  • Jules Silverman
Original Paper


An important aspect of social insect biology lies in the expression of collective foraging strategies developed to exploit food. In ants, four main types of foraging strategies are typically recognized based on the intensity of recruitment and the importance of chemical communication. Here, we describe a new type of foraging strategy, “tandem carrying”, which is also one of the most simple recruitment strategies, observed in the Ponerinae species Pachycondyla chinensis. Within this strategy, workers are directly carried individually and then released on the food resource by a successful scout. We demonstrate that this recruitment is context dependent and based on the type of food discovered and can be quickly adjusted as food quality changes. We did not detect trail marking by tandem-carrying workers. We conclude by discussing the importance of tandem carrying in an evolutionary context relative to other modes of recruitment in foraging and nest emigration.


Ants Foraging behavior Pachycondyla chinensis Recruitment Tandem carrying 



We would like to thank Rob R. Dunn and Eleanor Rice for their valuable comments on the manuscript, and Kenji Matsuura, Toshihisa Yashiro and Ken Shimizu for their assistance in Japan. Support for this work came from the Funding Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment at North Carolina State University, and BG was supported by the Department of Energy-National Institute for Climate Change Research, DOE-NICCR grant.

Supplementary material

114_2011_814_MOESM1_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Supplement 1 Number of P. chinensis tandem-carrying events over time in response to food type. Cell “A” held cockroach nymphs at the beginning of the experiment and then a pinned adult cockroach after 45 min. Cell “B” held a pinned adult cockroach at the beginning of the experiment and then cockroach nymphs after 45 min. *P < 0.05 (significant difference; paired Wilcoxon’s test). (DOC 44 kb)
114_2011_814_MOESM2_ESM.doc (221 kb)
Supplement 2 Adult transport in Camponotus castaneus (Latreille) observed in the context of a nest emigration in April 2009 in Cary, NC. Notice the posture and the points of contact on the mandibles of the workers. (DOC 221 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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