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The Thermal Diffusivity of the Organic Material of a Mound of Formica Polyctena Foerst. in Relation To the Thermoregulation of the Brood (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The thermal diffusivity of the organic material of a mound of the red wood ant (Formica polyctena Foerst.) in its early stage of development is estimated and compared with the thermal diffusivity of the surrounding sand. It is shown that it is the structuring activity of the ants that gives the mound its typical thermal property. By the construction of the mound the ants primarily generate a temperature-gradient during the day that provides them with better opportunities for the selection of the optimum temperatures of the various developmental stages of the brood, especially the pupae, than by nesting in the sand. The importance of the position of the mound in relation to the surrounding vegetation is discussed in view of the shading effect.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Ecology, Zoological Laboratory, University of Leiden, The Netherlands


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