Unité d’Ecologie Sociale (USE)
ULB CP 231
Campus de la Plaine
bd du Triomphe, B-1050 Bruxelles
Tel: 02.650.59.07 (from abroad +32.2.650.59.07)
Fax: 02.650.59.87 (from abroad +32.2.650.59.87)
Role and plasticity of the interface between the nest and the environment in the ant Myrmica rubra
A noteworthy ant colony nest structure is the interface between the nest and the environment. It is composed both of a social interface, represented by the individuals localized at the entrance of the nest, and a physical interface corresponding to the spatial organization of the ant nest entrances. Indeed, the performance of the colony in collecting and transmitting information as well as checking the entering individuals’ identity and sanitary state seems to lie in this interface. In my research, I will focus on the role of the interface between the nest and the environment on the colony organization and resources exploitation. I will first determine the role played by the ants located near the nest entrances studying interaction and repartition of Myrmica rubra workers located at the entrances in different social contexts. This will allow a highlight in the modulation of both individual behavior and colony investment in the nest entrance surveillance. Then, I will identify a possible spatial fidelity of the ants towards a certain entrance in order to show a potential worker specialization. Next I will look at the impact of entrance number on resources exploitation and selection in order to show the influence of centralization or division of information brought back to the nest on resources exploitation. Eventually, I will study the interface adaptability and the workers’ spatial organization within the nest in response to environmental changes. Overall, by changing only one parameter, that is to say the nest porosity, we will be able to observe its influence on both nest organization and exchanges between inside and outside the ant colony nest.