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Open AccessArticle

Nest Site Selection during Colony Relocation in Yucatan Peninsula Populations of the Ponerine Ants Neoponera villosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

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El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Conservación de la Biodiversidad, Avenida Centenario km 5.5, Chetumal 77014, Quintana Roo, Mexico
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Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale (CRCA), Centre de Biologie Intégrative (CBI), Université de Toulouse; CNRS, UPS, 31062 Toulouse, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(3), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11030200
Received: 15 January 2020 / Revised: 6 March 2020 / Accepted: 19 March 2020 / Published: 23 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects-Environment Interaction)
In the Yucatan Peninsula, the ponerine ant Neoponera villosa nests almost exclusively in tank bromeliads, Aechmea bracteata. In this study, we aimed to determine the factors influencing nest site selection during nest relocation which is regularly promoted by hurricanes in this area. Using ants with and without previous experience of Ae. bracteata, we tested their preference for refuges consisting of Ae. bracteata leaves over two other bromeliads, Ae. bromeliifolia and Ananas comosus. We further evaluated bromeliad-associated traits that could influence nest site selection (form and size). Workers with and without previous contact with Ae. bracteata significantly preferred this species over others, suggesting the existence of an innate attraction to this bromeliad. However, preference was not influenced by previous contact with Ae. bracteata. Workers easily discriminated between shelters of Ae. bracteata and A. comosus, but not those of the closely related Ae. bromeliifolia. In marked contrast, ants discriminated between similar sized Ae. bracteata and Ae. bromeliifolia plants, suggesting that chemical cues and plant structure play an important role. Size was also significant as they selected the largest plant when provided two dissimilar Ae. bracteata plants. Nest site selection by N. villosa workers seems to depend on innate preferences but familiarization with plant stimuli is not excluded. View Full-Text
Keywords: Aechmea bracteata; bromeliad; Ponerinae; tandem running; colony relocation; adaptation Aechmea bracteata; bromeliad; Ponerinae; tandem running; colony relocation; adaptation
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Rocha, F.H.; Lachaud, J.-P.; Hénaut, Y.; Pozo, C.; Pérez-Lachaud, G. Nest Site Selection during Colony Relocation in Yucatan Peninsula Populations of the Ponerine Ants Neoponera villosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insects 2020, 11, 200.

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