Striking Polymorphism among Infertile Helpers in the Arboreal Ant Gesomyrmex - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Journal Articles Asian Myrmecology Year : 2017

Striking Polymorphism among Infertile Helpers in the Arboreal Ant Gesomyrmex

Abstract

Gesomyrmex (subfamily Formicinae) is a poorly known arboreal ant from the Oriental tropics. We sampled colonies in three localities (NE Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, and Sabah) and examined inhabitants of ten nests inside living branches. None of the nests had a reproductive dealate queen, indicating colonies are polydomous. We distinguished three sterile castes using discrete morphological traits, morphometry and total body size. Observations of behaviour are challenging in tree canopies, and we use functional morphology to predict the specialised functions of different castes. Disproportionately large eyes and piercing mandibles are consistent with workers being agile hunters. Soldiers and supersoldiers share robust mandibles, but the latter have a rectangular head and substantially larger body size, like the queens. This suggests both supersoldiers and queens have the muscular power necessary to chew entrance tunnels in healthy wood. Queens and supersoldiers also share frontal lobes (protection for antennal bases), suggesting that they block nest entrances with their heads. When founding a nest, newly mated queens need to chew an entrance tunnel that reaches the innermost soft pith. Supersoldiers are mostly restricted inside nests where they store nutrients in their gaster, but they may also chew the entrance tunnels of additional nests as the colony expands.
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Dates and versions

hal-03990278 , version 1 (15-02-2023)

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Christian Peeters, Fuminori Ito, Decha Wiwatwitaya, Roberto A. Keller, Rosli Hashim, et al.. Striking Polymorphism among Infertile Helpers in the Arboreal Ant Gesomyrmex. Asian Myrmecology, 2017, ⟨10.20362/AM.009015⟩. ⟨hal-03990278⟩
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