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Territorial Behavior in the Green Tree Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina)

Bert Holldobler
Biotropica
Vol. 15, No. 4 (Dec., 1983), pp. 241-250
DOI: 10.2307/2387648
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2387648
Page Count: 10
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Territorial Behavior in the Green Tree Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina)
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Abstract

The behavioral organization of territoriality in the green tree ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) was studied in the field of North Queensland, Australia. The establishment and maintenance of territories in O. smaragdina is based on a complex behavioral communication repertory which appears to be almost identical to that of its only living congeneric species, the African weaver ant O. longinoda. In our study areas, individual territories sometimes covered an area of up to 1500 m2 comprising 21 major trees. The polydomous nest organization makes it possible for an Oecophylla colony to patrol and crop much of the volume of the territory in a very cost efficient way. The guard and defense force which consists primarily of old workers with reduced fatbodies and ovaries, is housed in special barrack nests, located at the territorial boundary. A selective "enemy identification" seems to be the major behavioral mechanism for interspecific territoriality and for the mosaic distribution of ecologically dominant ant species.

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