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Implications of stridulation behavior in the red and black imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren and Solenopsis richteri Forel, and their hybrid

Posted on:2011-08-10Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:The University of MississippiCandidate:Marquess, JakeFull Text:PDF
Stridulation elicits a variety of behavioral responses in the Formicidae: distress, alarm and recruitment of nestmates. The intent of my research is to broaden the understanding of stridulation by investigating the morphology, multiple behaviors in which stridulation has been observed, and the behavioral response to the playback of these stridulatory signals in two closely related species, Solenopsis invicta, S. richteri, and their hybrid.;A SEM examination of head width and the stridulatory organs of imported fire ant workers found the number of ridges on the "file" ( pars striden) to be positively correlated with body size. The increase in ridge number in relation to body size suggests that the number of pulses in each pulse train of the stridulation signal should increase as body size increases.;Stridulation was not correlated with excavation behavior, but grinding, an incidental sound resulting from soil excavation, is a reliable indicator of excavation behavior.;Absence of stridulation upon initial discovery of the food source and low amount of stridulation observed with ten or less ants present at the food source indicates that stridulation does not serve as an initial short range recruitment signal to nearby nestmates. Furthermore, over 90% of the total stridulation observed was recorded with 30 or more ants present at the food source. Finally, the time between calls decreased and the number of stridulations increased as more ants arrived at the food source.;Stridulation in dyadic encounters between ants occurs almost exclusively during non-nestmate conspecitic interactions. Restrained ants or "defenders" accounted for 92.9% of the total stridulation observed compared to just 3.4% for "attackers." Restraint between the head and thorax or "neck" evoked the highest level of stridulation in majors. Stridulation during non-nestmate interactions is size specific, as trials involving majors had nearly twice as much stridulation (88.3%), than trials with mediums (48.3%) and minors (41.7%).;Major workers of both Solenopsis invicta and S. richteri appear to respond to stridulation signals by increasing their rate of movement. However, it is unclear if they are able to perceive the direction and relative amplitude of the signal.
Keywords/Search Tags:Stridulation, Solenopsis invicta, Behavior, Ants, Richteri, Food source
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