Article (Scientific journals)
Who brings out the dead ? Necrophoresis in the red ant, Myrmica rubra
Diez, Lise; Le Borgne, Hélène; Lejeune, Philippe et al.
2013In Animal Behaviour
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Keywords :
Division of labour; Myrmica rubra; Necrophoresis; Social; Immunity; Social insect; Task specialization
Abstract :
[en] The division of labour plays a major role in the success of social insects. For instance, through social prophylaxis, the spread of pathogens within the colony can be reduced if corpse removal is the concern of a specialized group of ants. However, in relatively small colonies, the number of dead individuals and the amount of waste may be too low to justify a specialized group of corpse carriers. We examined the corpse removal habits of the common red ant, Myrmica rubra. Ants acting as corpse carriers were not strictly specialized in corpse management, but split their time between disposing of the dead and foraging. Some corpse-carrying individuals, however, developed a short-term specialization by making several successive corpse transports. Corpse carriers limited cross-contamination by remaining mostly outside the nest and congregating near the nest entrance when resting inside.
Disciplines :
Entomology & pest control
Author, co-author :
Diez, Lise;  Université Libre de Bruxelles - ULB > Unit of Social Ecology
Le Borgne, Hélène
Lejeune, Philippe ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Forêts, Nature et Paysage > Gestion des ressources forestières et des milieux naturels
Detrain, Claire
Language :
Title :
Who brings out the dead ? Necrophoresis in the red ant, Myrmica rubra
Publication date :
Journal title :
Animal Behaviour
Publisher :
Academic Press, London, United Kingdom
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi
Funders :
FRIA - Fonds pour la Formation à la Recherche dans l'Industrie et dans l'Agriculture [BE]
Fonds David et Alice van Buuren
F.R.S.-FNRS - Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique [BE]
Commentary :
We thank Professor Tom Collett and Dr Paul Graham for their insightful comments on the manuscript.
Available on ORBi :
since 19 November 2013


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