Brood Stimulation Hypothesis
Living reference work entry
A distinctive feature of the colony cycle in some army ants is an alternation between a nomadic phase in which the colony emigrates frequently and a statary phase in which the colony remains in place for longer periods. During an emigration the workers carry brood to a new temporary nesting site known as a “bivouac” (Fig. 1). The transition from the statary to the nomadic phase was previously supposed to be a simple, direct result of exhaustion of the local food supply. Against this, it was originally proposed by Theodore C. Schneirla that transitions between phases are triggered by developmental changes in the colony’s synchronous brood, rather than environmental circumstances or an endogenous rhythm of the adult ants (the brood stimulation hypothesis; [ 8, 9]). Schneirla suggested that hungry, simultaneously hatching larvae abruptly increase the colony’s demand for food, signaling adult workers to forage and emigrate frequently in order to avoid...
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