Nest Architecture and Colony Growth of Atta bisphaerica Grass-Cutting Ants

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2020-11-01

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Coorientador

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Mdpi

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Simple Summary Atta bisphaerica grass-cutting ants build giant nests with hundreds or thousands of large chambers. Here, we assessed whether the total volume of fungus chambers and other nest parameters grow at close or similar proportions to worker numbers in the A. bisphaerica colony. The fungus garden biomass, external area, and total fungus chamber volume increased at rates similar to that of worker numbers. The total volume of chambers, and external area increased at a similar proportion to that of the number of workers, probably due to the fungus garden allocation needs of the colony. On the other hand, the number of fungus chambers, number of entrance holes, and nest depth increased more slowly than the number of workers. Thus, this study demonstrates that A. bisphaerica nest development regarding the total volume of chambers is similar to the increase in the number of colony workers. Atta grass-cutting ants (Formicidae: Myrmicinae: Attini) are found in the Cerrado biome and build giant nests with hundreds or thousands of large chambers. We assessed for Atta bisphaerica grass-cutting ants whether the total volume of fungus chambers and other nest parameters grow at close or similar proportions to worker numbers in the colony. Data on fungus garden biomass, population, external area, number of entrance holes, number of fungus chambers, total fungus chambers volume, and nest depth were obtained during colony growth/nest development. Our results reveal that the fungus garden biomass, external area, and total fungus chamber volume increased at rates similar to the increase in the number of workers. The total volume of chambers, and external area increased at a similar proportion to the increase in number of workers, probably due to the fungus garden allocation needs of the colony. The number of fungus chambers, number of entrance holes, and nest depth increased less than 4-fold for every 10-fold increase in the worker number. In addition, the height of the fungus chambers increased as the width increased, a pattern not observed for tunnel height and length, and the chamber volume increased according to worker number. Thus, this study demonstrates for A. bisphaerica that nest development in terms of chamber volume is similar to the increase in number of colony workers, and this contributes to a better understanding of Atta nest architecture.

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Inglês

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Insects. Basel: Mdpi, v. 11, n. 11, 10 p., 2020.

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