Reference : Keep the nest clean: survival advantages of corpse removal in ants
Scientific journals : Article
Life sciences : Environmental sciences & ecology
Life sciences : Entomology & pest control
Keep the nest clean: survival advantages of corpse removal in ants
Diez, Lise mailto [Université Libre de Bruxelles - ULB > Unit of Social Ecology > > >]
Lejeune, Philippe mailto [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 > > >]
Biology Letters
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] Necrophoresis ; Myrmica rubra ; Social immunity ; Survival ; Ants
[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.
Fonds pour la formation à la Recherche dans l'Industrie et dans l'Agriculture (Communauté française de Belgique) - FRIA ; Fonds David et Alice van Buuren ; Newton International Fellowship ; Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS
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