Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Polyethism and the importance of context in the alarm reaction of the grass- cutting ant, Atta capiguara
Authors: Hughes, William O H
Goulson, Dave
Contact Email:
Keywords: leaf-cutting ants
Atta capiguara
alarm behaviour
Issue Date: May-2001
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Hughes WOH & Goulson D (2001) Polyethism and the importance of context in the alarm reaction of the grass-cutting ant, Atta capiguara, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 49 (6), pp. 503-508.
Abstract: Leaf-cutting ants exhibit an aggressive alarm response. Yet in most alarm reactions, not all of the ants encountering a disturbance will respond. This variability in behaviour was investigated using field colonies of Atta capiguara, a grass-cutting species. Crushed ant heads were applied near foraging trails to stimulate alarm reactions. We found that minor workers were disproportionately likely to respond. Only 34.7-2.8% of ants travelling along foraging trails were minor workers, but 82.1-6.1% of ants that responded were minors. Workers transporting grass did not respond at all. The alarm response was strongest at the position and time where minors were most abundant. Ants were more likely to respond when they were travelling along trails with low rather than high traffic. Minor workers followed a meandering route along the trail, compared with the direct route taken by foragers. We argue that an important function of minor workers on foraging trails is to patrol the trail area for threats, and that they then play the key role in the alarm reaction.
Type: Journal Article
DOI Link:
Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.
Affiliation: University of Southampton
Biological and Environmental Sciences

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
goulson_polyethism_2001.pdf54.74 kBAdobe PDFUnder Embargo until 31/12/2999     Request a copy

Note: If any of the files in this item are currently embargoed, you can request a copy directly from the author by clicking the padlock icon above. However, this facility is dependant on the depositor still being contactable at their original email address.

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.