Journal of Ethology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 43–53 | Cite as

Efficiency in the exploitation of patchy environments by the ponerine antPaltothyreus tarsatus: an ecological consequence of the flexibility of prey capture behavior

  • Alain Déjean
  • Jean-Paul Lachaud
  • Guy Beugnon


Paltothyreus tarsatus workers show an adaptive predatory strategy compatible with central place theory which predicts that single-prey loading is an extension of the optimal diet choice while multiple-prey loading behavior would correspond to the optimal use of patches. The insight learning involved in the quick modifications of predatory strategy enablesP. tarsatus to hunt all available prey in a great diversity of sizes and species. Nevertheless, this generalist predator strongly preferred termites and very large prey such as giant diplopods and crickets to other choices within its diet. In the hunting of these favorite prey, the recruitment of nestmates enhanced the efficiency of total predation, though the release of a chemical trail appeared to depend on the hunger-satiety balance of the colony. In addition to the hunger, the miscapture of prey also triggered the release of chemical trails. The strategy for capturing grouped termites was characterized by the loading of multiple prey at a single time, by a concentrated search in a restricted area and by an optional recruitment of nestmates. These behavioral characteristics of ponerine ants probably account for the flexibility of their predatory strategy for hunting aggregated small prey.


Prey Capture Generalist Predator Patchy Environment Optimal Diet Place Theory 
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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alain Déjean
    • 1
  • Jean-Paul Lachaud
    • 2
  • Guy Beugnon
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Zoologie (and URA-CNRS 667)Faculté des SciencesYaoundéCameroun
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche en Biologie du Comportement, URA-CNRS 664Université Paul-SabatierToulouse CedexFrance

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