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Raiding Activity of an Obligate (Polyergus breviceps) and Two Facultative (Formica puberula and F. gynocrates) Slave-Making Ants

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Slave-making ants are social parasites that exploit the labor of workers from their host species by keeping them captive in the slave-maker nest. Slave-makers vary in their degree of specialization, ranging from obligate slave-makers that cannot survive without captives, to facultative slave-makers, which are often found living independently. Our study system included one obligate slave-maker, Polyergus breviceps, two facultative slave-makers, Formica puberula and F. gynocrates, and two hosts, F. occulta and F. sp. cf. argentea. We observed all raids conducted during two raiding seasons by seven P. breviceps colonies, two F. puberula colonies, and two F. gynocrates colonies. We report on raiding frequency, average raid distances, and then compare the probability of being raided multiple times in a single raiding season for the two host species. We also report on the spatial distribution of slave raids, which suggests that slave-makers avoid raiding in areas used by other slave-maker colonies. This is the first report of raiding activity for P. breviceps in this location, and the first report of raiding activity of any kind for F. puberula and F. gynocrates.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank Rick and Vickie Jordan for granting access to our field site and Nathan Cook for help with field work. We thank James Trager, Andre Francoeur and Stefan Cover for help with identifying specimens. This work was partially funded by a Sigma Xi grants-in-aid-of-research, and by NSF grant IBN-0110482 to J.M.H.

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Correspondence to Jeremy M. Bono.

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Bono, J., Gordon, E., Antolin, M. et al. Raiding Activity of an Obligate (Polyergus breviceps) and Two Facultative (Formica puberula and F. gynocrates) Slave-Making Ants. J Insect Behav 19, 429–446 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10905-006-9035-2

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