Colony size and foraging strategies in desert seed harvester ants (ScienceDirect Publication: Journal of Arid Environments)

Publication date: Available online 5 May 2017
Source:Journal of Arid Environments
Author(s): Ittai Warburg, Walter G. Whitford, Yosef Steinberger
We summarized the literature on foraging strategies, colony sizes, and body sizes of seed harvesting ants to test hypotheses about the relationship between colony size and foraging strategy, and body size and foraging strategy. We used a Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test to test hypotheses about body size, colony size, and foraging strategy with the following results: (1) The maximum length of a worker ant in trunk trail foraging ant species or group foraging ant species is significantly smaller than in individual foraging ants except in the North American genus Pogonomyrmex; and (2) the maximum number of worker ants per nest in trunk trail foraging ant species or group foraging ant species is significantly larger than in individual foraging ants. While most seed harvesting ants can forage as individuals, only seed harvesters with large colonies develop group or trunk-trail foraging strategies. Flexibility in foraging strategy is important in desert seed harvesters because of the unpredictability of food resources among years.