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Open AccessReview

Using Nutritional Geometry to Explore How Social Insects Navigate Nutritional Landscapes

1
Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
2
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado Postal 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Panama
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(1), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010053
Received: 4 December 2019 / Revised: 11 January 2020 / Accepted: 11 January 2020 / Published: 15 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Insects face many cognitive challenges as they navigate nutritional landscapes that comprise their foraging environments with potential food items. The emerging field of nutritional geometry (NG) can help visualize these challenges, as well as the foraging solutions exhibited by insects. Social insect species must also make these decisions while integrating social information (e.g., provisioning kin) and/or offsetting nutrients provisioned to, or received from unrelated mutualists. In this review, we extend the logic of NG to make predictions about how cognitive challenges ramify across these social dimensions. Focusing on ants, we outline NG predictions in terms of fundamental and realized nutritional niches, considering when ants interact with related nestmates and unrelated bacterial, fungal, plant, and insect mutualists. The nutritional landscape framework we propose provides new avenues for hypothesis testing and for integrating cognition research with broader eco-evolutionary principles. View Full-Text
Keywords: nutritional geometry; cognition; insects; ants; fundamental and realized niches; mutualism nutritional geometry; cognition; insects; ants; fundamental and realized niches; mutualism
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MDPI and ACS Style

Crumière, A.J.J.; Stephenson, C.J.; Nagel, M.; Shik, J.Z. Using Nutritional Geometry to Explore How Social Insects Navigate Nutritional Landscapes. Insects 2020, 11, 53.

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