Foraging recruitment by the Giant Tropical Ant Paraponera clavata (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

Pan-Pacific Entomologist
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Increased foraging of an exceptionally abundant, but ephemeral, food source by ants can result from foraging excitement that does not include pheromone trails, tandem running, or from recruitment of other workers along pheromone trails (Carrol and Janzen, 1973). They also provided rationale for two types of short-lived pheromone trails resulting in mass or group recruitment. These both seem to fall into the Type II foraging strategy described by Oster and Wilson (1978). Neither of these discussions conveniently allow for pheromone recruitment by relatively small colonies of a primitive monomorphic species such as Paraponera clavata. Our observations suggest that recruitment to an abundant ephemeral food source does occur naturally and can be induced artificially in colonies of P. clavata.

Paraponera clavata is considered primitive (Wilson, 1958), particularly in foraging habits (Young and Hermann, 1980; Young, 1977). Hermann (1973, 1975) reported the P. clavata, unlike more advanced species, forages independently; following shot periods of apparent group activity outside of the colony (Young and Hermann, 1980). It reportedly does not return to a food source when only part has been harvested. After returning to its colony with booty, a single worker resumes foraging independently, with no observable tendency to return to partially harvested booty or without recruiting additional workers to collect the remaining food (Hermann, 1973; Young and Hermann, 1980). Reports of independent foraging, lack of forager recruitment, and apparent lack of food source fidelity resulted in the assumption that P. clavata probably lacks an effective pheromone trail communication system (Young and Hermann, 1980).

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Foraging recruitment by the Giant Tropical Ant Paraponera clavata (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)
Series title Pan-Pacific Entomologist
Volume 61
Issue 4
Year Published 1985
Language English
Publisher Pacific Coast Entomologial Society
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 5 p.
First page 334
Last page 338
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