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The ecology of the fungus-gardening ant Trachymyrmex septentrionalisMcCook (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) was investigated in a northern Florida longleaf pine, Pinus palustris Mill., forest. This ant is extremely abundant in pine sandhill in the Apalachicola National Forest, in north Florida; a hectare contains on average 1,000 nests, 235,000 T. septentrionalis(More)
1. The fungus-gardening ants and their fungi represent a highly co-evolved, vertically transmitted mutualism. Mutualisms such as these are thought to be reciprocal antagonisms, so that the ants and the fungus can be expected to have some conflicting interests. 2. This paper reports the results from a cultivar switch experiment that documented the effects of(More)
Offspring traits are among the most important life history traits, yet we lack an adequate understanding of their role in social insect life history evolution. Colony founding in the fungus-gardening ants (Tribe Attini) is different from most other ant species because the queens forage during the founding phase. Queens of the most derived genus, Atta, are(More)
One of the more fascinating features of fungus-gardening ants (Attini: Formicidae) is their fidelity to their lineage-specific fungal symbionts. Among the derived higher-attine ants (leafcutter ants and close relatives), it is thought that most leaf-cutting ants grow Attamyces fungus whereas most Trachymyrmex ants grow ‘Trachymyces’ fungus, but there exist(More)
Most ant colonies are comprised of workers that cooperate to harvest resources and feed developing larvae. Around 50 million years ago (MYA), ants of the attine lineage adopted an alternative strategy, harvesting resources used as compost to produce fungal gardens. While fungus cultivation is considered a major breakthrough in ant evolution, the associated(More)
Fungus gardening ants make clear choices among fungal substrates (food for their fungus). It has been proposed, but never demonstrated, that these ants are collecting the best for their symbiotic fungus and the production of ant biomass (fitness). The goal of this study was to determine whether preferred substrates lead to higher fitness in the attine,(More)
Fungus-gardening insects are among the most complex organisms because of their extensive co-evolutionary histories with obligate fungal symbionts and other microbes. Some fungus-gardening insect lineages share fungal symbionts with other members of their lineage and thus exhibit diffuse co-evolutionary relationships, while others exhibit little or no(More)
A field population of Polistes metricus Say near St. Louis, Missouri was supplemented with dilute Apis mellifera honey and Trichoplusia ni caterpillars during the entire colony development period. Offspring were collected at two times to coincide with emergence of worker and reproductive broods. Food supplementation had no effect on nest size, the number of(More)
1. Insects are known to be influenced by global climate change, especially by drought and increased temperatures. 2. Although ants are widely regarded to be indicator or keystone species and ecosystem engineers, we do not know how ants may respond to global climate change. 3. This study reports the range contraction of an extremely abundant fungus-gardening(More)
Geographic parthenogenesis is a distribution pattern, in which parthenogenetic populations tend to live in marginal habitats, at higher latitudes and altitudes and island-like habitats compared with the sexual forms. The facultatively parthenogenetic ant Platythyrea punctata is thought to exhibit this general pattern throughout its wide range in Central(More)