Studying the preference for a natural mimic nest by the ant, Diacamma indicum

Mandi, Epil (2022) Studying the preference for a natural mimic nest by the ant, Diacamma indicum. Masters thesis, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata.

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Nesting behaviour is a common trait across the animal kingdom, and several researchers have focused on the nesting behaviour of eusocial insects like termites, bees, wasps and ants. In Diacamma indicum, a subterranean ant, recent studies have elucidated the three-dimensional nest architecture of this species in its natural habitat. Based on this information, an artificial nest with the average values of the natural nest was constructed in the lab and termed the natural mimic nest, and in the course of this study, we examined the preference for this nest by relocating colonies. While our null hypothesis was that colonies do not have any preference for the natural mimic nest during choice experiments, the alternate hypothesis was that they would prefer the architectural elements of their new nest and hence the natural mimic nest in different contexts. More specifically, the three objectives of my study were the following. In the first objective, we examined whether ants show any preference when two architecturally different nests (petri dish and natural mimic nest) are given as choices at equal distances. In the second objective, we examined if the positions of the nests were switched midway through the relocation and whether colonies showed any preference. In the third objective, we examined the preference for the natural mimic nest when it was kept at a longer distance as compared to the petri dish nest. We found that ants had a significant preference for the natural mimic nest. When the nest options were equidistant, 9/10 colonies preferred the natural mimic nest, while when the location of the nest was switched midway through the relocation, 10/10 colonies still showed preference for moving into the natural mimic nest. Further, even when the natural mimic nest was six times further away from the alternate nest, it was chosen by 9/10 colonies. Thus, we conclude that colonies have a clear preference for the nest with optimal architectural features when they have a choice during relocation. While several studies have examined colony relocation and architectural features of ant nests individually, the current study, for the first time, integrates these two features to ask a novel question. The findings from this study have implications for the maintenance of ant colonies in the lab and have certainly helped us understand the nesting behaviour of these superorganisms a little better.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Supervisor: Prof. Sumana Annagiri
Uncontrolled Keywords: Diacamma indicum; Natural Mimic Nest; Nesting Behaviour
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Department of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: IISER Kolkata Librarian
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2023 10:47
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2023 10:47

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