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Research article2017Peer reviewed

Changes in the speed of ants as a result of aggressive interactions

Slipinski, Piotr; Zmihorski, Michal


Subordinate ant species utilize different tactics to reduce competition with the stronger, larger and more aggressive individuals of a dominant species. In our experimental study, we assessed the behavioral response of individual workers of 4 subordinate ant species during their co-occurrence with workers of a single dominant species. Contrary to most classical experiments focused on aggressive interactions, we assessed workers' speed as a crucial factor in the outcome of co-occurrence. Generally, there was a large intraspecific variation in the speed of the studied specieseach had slow and fast individuals. Workers of all studied species moved faster just after interaction, suggesting that contact between 2 hostile workers is a stressful stimulus, generating a behavioral reaction of increasing speed. Also, the number of aggressive contacts experienced by a given individual positively affected its speed. Moreover, workers which were fast when exploring territory were also fast after interspecific interactions. The duration of aggression was significantly reduced by the speed and body size of a subordinate species workerthe more quickly a worker reacted and bigger it was, the shorter was the time of cumulative aggression. To our knowledge, this is the first study of this type to be conducted on ants and we conclude that speed is an overlooked and important characteristic of species and also individuals, therefore it should be considered as a driver of patterns of co-occurrence in ant assemblages.


hierarchy; reaction; response; speed; survival; velocity

Published in

Insect Science
2017, Volume: 24, number: 5, pages: 842-852
Publisher: WILEY

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    • Zmihorski, Michal

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