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acta ethologica

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Task partitioning in leafcutting ants

  • Adam G. Hart
  • Carl Anderson
  • Francis L. Ratnieks
Review

Abstract.

A task is said to be partitioned when it is split into two or more sequential stages and material is passed from one worker to another; for instance, one individual collects a material from a source and passes it to another for transportation back to the nest. In this study, we review the existence of task partitioning in leafcutting ants (Attini) and find that, across species, this form of work organisation occurs in all stages of leaf collection, leaf transportation, and leaf processing within the nest; in the deposition of refuse (leaves and spent fungal garden) to internal or external dumps; and in colony emigration. Thus, task partitioning is shown to be a very important component of work organisation in leafcutting ants. Examples mostly concern Atta but task partitioning is also known in Acromyrmex. The costs and benefits of task partitioning of the various stages are discussed and suggestions for further research are highlighted.

Task partitioning Material transfer Leaf processing Waste management Atta Acromyrmex 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam G. Hart
    • 1
  • Carl Anderson
    • 2
  • Francis L. Ratnieks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
  2. 2.LS Biologie I, Universität Regensburg, Universitätsstrasse 31, 93040 Regensburg, Germany

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