Caste in a Primitive Ant: Absence of Age Polyethism in Amblyopone

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Science  17 Nov 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4369, pp. 770-772
DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4369.770


Polyethism, the divison of labor among members of a colony, is based on worker age and size in ants. In the ponerine species Amblyopone pallipes worker behavior is independent of age, therefore temporal castes, or groups of age-related task specialists, do not exist. This primitive caste system, previously unknown in ants, appears to be correlated with the peculiar characteristics of the life history and ecology of Amblyopone.