Next Article in Journal
Evidence for Cryptic Diversity in the “Pan-Antarctic” Springtail Friesea antarctica and the Description of Two New Species
Previous Article in Journal
Transcriptomic Analysis of the Brown Planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens, at Different Stages after Metarhizium anisopliae Challenge
Open AccessArticle

Nest Turrets of Acromyrmex Grass-Cutting Ants: Micromorphology Reveals Building Techniques and Construction Dynamics

1
Departamento de Ciencias Geológicas, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellón II, Intendente Güiraldes 2160, CP C1428EHA, Ciudad Universitaria, Buenos Aires B1657, Argentina
2
Unidad de Entomología, Departamento de Protección Vegetal, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de la República, Av. E. Garzón 780, Montevideo 11200, Uruguay
3
Department of Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(2), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11020140
Received: 22 January 2020 / Revised: 14 February 2020 / Accepted: 21 February 2020 / Published: 24 February 2020
Acromyrmex fracticornis grass-cutting ants construct conspicuous chimney-shaped nest turrets made of intermeshed grass fragments. We asked whether turrets are constructed by merely piling up nearby materials around the entrance, or whether ants incorporate different materials as the turret develops. By removing the original nest turrets and following their rebuilding process over three consecutive days, age-dependent changes in wall morphology and inner lining fabrics were characterized. Micromorphological descriptions based on thin sections of turret walls revealed the building behaviors involved. Ants started by collecting nearby twigs and dry grass fragments that are piled up around the nest entrance. Several large fragments held the structure like beams. As a net-like structure grew, soil pellets were placed in between the intermeshed plant fragments from the turret base to the top, reinforcing the structure. Concomitantly, the turret inner wall was lined with soil pellets, starting from the base. Therefore, the consolidation of the turret occurred both over time and from its base upwards. It is argued that nest turrets do not simply arise by the arbitrary deposition of nearby materials, and that workers selectively incorporate large materials at the beginning, and respond to the developing structure by reinforcing the intermeshed plant fragments over time. View Full-Text
Keywords: building behavior; Acromyrmex fracticornis; leaf-cutting ants; collective pattern; architecture; self-organization; microstructure; material composition; thin sections building behavior; Acromyrmex fracticornis; leaf-cutting ants; collective pattern; architecture; self-organization; microstructure; material composition; thin sections
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

MDPI and ACS Style

Cosarinsky, M.I.; Römer, D.; Roces, F. Nest Turrets of Acromyrmex Grass-Cutting Ants: Micromorphology Reveals Building Techniques and Construction Dynamics. Insects 2020, 11, 140.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop