0323 Task and venom specialization in workers and alates of Termitopone commutata

Sunday, November 16, 2008: 3:11 PM
Room A9, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
Justin Schmidt , Southwestern Biological Institute, Tucson, AZ
William Overal , Coordenação de Zoologia - Entomologia, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belém, Para, Brazil
Termitopone commutata is a large ponerine ant species specializing in termite prey. They form raiding armies of workers that overwhelm the termite defenses, enter the termite tunnels, sting and inactivate termites including soldiers, and carry them back to their colony. Very little natural history has been reported for this species and nothing is known of task specialization of workers. We excavated and totally censused a record-sized colony and separated individuals into categories of raiders, nest defenders, and nest workers. The amount of venom per worker in the three specialities and in alates was measured and the respective lethalities of their venoms determined. Venom activities mirrored the needs of the three task specialists indicating matching physiology and behavior in this species.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.34476