Tool selection during foraging in two species of funnel ants
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Tool use by non-human animals has received much research attention in the last couple of decades. Nonetheless, research has focused mostly on vertebrates, particularly primates and corvids, even though tool use has also been documented in insects. One of the best documented examples involves ants using debris (e.g., sand grains, mud, leaf fragments) to collect and transport liquid food to their nest. However, little is known about the factors that determine the selection of materials to be used as tool. We investigated tool selection in two species of Aphaenogaster ants by giving them the choice between different kinds of potential tools (natural and artificial objects). Ant workers showed a clear preference for certain materials to be used as tool objects. Tool selection was also shaped by familiarity with the material as ants developed a preference for artificial tools with a good soaking capacity that cannot be found in their natural environment. Our results indicate that ants of this genus evolved unique foraging strategies and show plasticity in their behaviour.
Maák , I , Lőrinczi , G , Módra , G , Bovet , D , Call , J & d’Ettore , P 2017 , ' Tool selection during foraging in two species of funnel ants ' Animal Behaviour , vol 123 , pp. 207-216 . DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.11.005
© 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.11.005
DescriptionThis work was supported by European Commission (FP7-MC-ERG-2009-256524 to PdE).
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