The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, is a widespread invasive species characterized by reduced intraspecific aggression within introduced populations. To illuminate the mechanisms underlying nestmate recognition in Argentine ants, we studied the spatial and temporal fidelity of intraspecific aggression in an introduced population of Argentine ants within which intraspecific aggression does occur. We quantified variation in the presence or absence of intraspecific aggression among nests over time both in the field and under controlled laboratory conditions to gain insight into the role of environmental factors as determinants of nestmate discriminatory ability. In addition, we compared levels of intraspecific aggression between nest pairs to the similarity of their cuticular hydrocarbons to determine the potential role of these compounds as labels for nestmate discrimination. In both field and laboratory comparisons, nest pairs behaved in a consistent manner throughout the course of the experiment: pairs that fought did so for an entire year, and pairs that did not fight remained nonaggressive. Moreover, we found a negative relationship between cuticular hydrocarbon similarity and the degree of aggression between nests, suggesting that these hydrocarbons play a role in nestmate discriminatory ability. In contrast to the prevailing pattern, ants from one site showed a marked change in behaviour during the course of this study. A concomitant change was also seen in the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of ants from this site.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology