Many ant species move relocate their nests on a regular basis, but little is known about the correlates, causes, and adaptive significance of such relocation events. In the lowland wet forests of Central America, colonies of the ground-nesting ant Aphaenogaster araneoides relocate their nests within their home range once per week on average. We performed observational studies to determine the pattern of nest relocation and test for environmental and demographic correlates of relocation behavior. Because leaf litter abundance is known to affect colony growth, we created leaf litter supplementation and removal treatments to determine whether changes leaf litter abundance altered relocation frequency. Relocation events almost always occurred within 1 m of the original nest, and abandoned nests were not occupied by adjacent colonies. Many nests were used multiple times for short durations. Nest architecture is highly correlated with the duration of nest occupation and the repeated use of particular nests. Nests with shallow entrance tunnels experienced occupancy rates when the nest occurred under debris or in open soil. When nests were located against the buttresses of canopy trees, vertical nests experienced greater occupancy rates.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Aphaenogaster araneoides
Keywords: colony movement, nest architecture
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