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Learned Social Attachment To Queens in Leptothorax Ambiguus Emery Ant Workers

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In the first experiment, field-collected colonies of L. ambiguus Emery discriminated between nestmate queens and queens from other conspecific colonies. In the second experiment, groups of L. ambiguus workers matured from pupae and spent the first 14 days of their adult lives with either an L. ambiguus queen from the workers' parental colony, an L. ambiguus queen from another colony, an L. longispinosus Roger queen, or a Protomognathus americanus (Emery) slavemaker queen. Sixteen worker groups served in each of the four experimental conditions. At the end of the familiarization period, the queens with which the workers had been living were removed and the worker groups were tested by reintroducing the familiar queen and an unfamiliar queen from the workers' parental colony. Workers familiarized with a queen from their own colony did not distinguish her from another queen from the same colony. In the other three conditions, workers bit the familiar queen less and groomed and non-hostilely touched her more than the unfamiliar queen. These results indicate that L. ambiguus workers learn social attachments to queens.

Affiliations: 1: Erindale College, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 1C6


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