Article (Scientific journals)
Keep the nest clean: survival advantages of corpse removal in ants
Diez, Lise; Lejeune, Philippe; Detrain, Claire
2014In Biology Letters, 10 (7)
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Keywords :
Necrophoresis; Myrmica rubra; Social immunity; Survival; Ants
Abstract :
[en] Sociality increases exposure to pathogens. Therefore, social insects have developed a wide range of behavioural defences, known as ‘social immunity’. However, the benefits of these behaviours in terms of colony survival have been scarcely investigated. We tested the survival advantage of prophylaxis, i.e. corpse removal, in ants. Over 50 days, we compared the survival of ants in colonies that were free to remove corpses with those that were restricted in their corpse removal. From Day 8 onwards, the survival of adult workers was significantly higher in colonies that were allowed to remove corpses normally. Overall, larvae survived better than adults, but were slightly affected by the presence of corpses in the nest. When removal was restricted, ants removed as many corpses as they could and moved the remaining corpses away from brood, typically to the nest corners. These results show the importance of nest maintenance and prophylactic behaviour in social insects.
Disciplines :
Entomology & pest control
Environmental sciences & ecology
Author, co-author :
Diez, Lise;  Université Libre de Bruxelles - ULB > Unit of Social Ecology
Lejeune, Philippe ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Forêts, Nature et Paysage > Gestion des ressources forestières et des milieux naturels
Detrain, Claire;  Université Libre de Bruxelles - ULB > Unit of Social Ecology
Language :
Title :
Keep the nest clean: survival advantages of corpse removal in ants
Publication date :
July 2014
Journal title :
Biology Letters
Publisher :
The Royal Society, United Kingdom
Volume :
Issue :
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
Newton International Fellowship
F.R.S.-FNRS - Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique [BE]
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