Fragmentation or Transportation: Mode of Large-Prey Retrieval in Arboreal and Ground Nesting Ants

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Foraging strategy of ant workers has been studied from several aspects, however, the mode of prey retrieval and factors affecting it have been rarely studied to date, even thought it is an important aspect for understanding ant foraging strategy. We investigated the behavioral response against large prey for 44 ant species of 34 genera belonging to eight subfamilies in Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Workers of most arboreal ants cut-up large prey at the site of prey capture, and individual workers retrieve the smaller pieces to the nests. In contrast, in most ground-living species, a group of workers retrieve large prey cooperatively without fragmentation. On the ground, parts of the prey item were often robbed by other ant species during this process, while such interference was rare on trees. The significance of the relation between nest site and mode of prey retrieval is discussed.

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