Spatial analysis of foraging activity of the Polygynous Red Imported Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Meléndez-Ackerman, Elvia J.
Densities of polygyne Solenopsis invicta are higher in the introduced range than the monogyne social form and this might be because the lack of intraspecific aggression, but the mechanisms of how polygyne colonies persist at these high densities are still unknown. Lack of aggression might lead colonies to compete by exploitative mechanisms in which some ants remove food before others would find it. For instance: do they share resources? If so, to what extent? I will answer this question by marking foragers and recruits externally with ultraviolet fluorescent ink. Recapture will allow me to map complete polygyne foraging areas and also observe resource sharing of colonies at baits. Some crucial and basic questions about polygyne foraging organization will be answered: 1)How is the mound volume of a polygyne colony related to its foraging area? 2)How far do polygyne ants forage? 3)Does a colony monopolizes a single bait or does it share with others? 4)Can bait distance and/or colony biomass determine food acquisition success?) 5)Do polygyne foraging areas overlap? 6)If so, to what extent?National Science Foundation, HRD #0734826 USDA-CSREES 2008-38422-19211 and University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus