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Stratification of Workers in Harvester Ant Nests (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

William P. MacKay
Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society
Vol. 56, No. 4 (Oct., 1983), pp. 538-542
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25084457
Page Count: 5
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Stratification of Workers in Harvester Ant Nests (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
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Abstract

Rates of oxygen consumption, dry weights, fat contents, and ages of workers from various levels in nests of three species of harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex montanus, P. subnitidus and P. rugosus) from southern California, USA, are compared. The results demonstrate that the workers are vertically stratified within the nests: The youngest individuals and those with highest dry weights, highest fat contents and lowest respiratory rates are found in the bottom of the nests. Foragers and ants in the upper nest levels have highest mortality rates and low levels of fat content. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the exterior workers are drained of most usable energy and consist of a population of low-cost workers which live only a short time. This is apparently an energy-saving adaptation for the ant nest.

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