Territorial Strategies in Ants

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Science  14 Nov 1980:
Vol. 210, Issue 4471, pp. 732-739
DOI: 10.1126/science.210.4471.732


Several features in social insects, particularly in ants, make the behavioral organization of territoriality considerably more complex than that of solitary animals. The establishment and maintenance of territories are based on a division of labor and a complex communication system. The analyses of territorial strategies in ants comprise the study of the design and spatiotemporal structure of the territory, as well as the social mechanisms through which the insect society pursues its territorial strategy. The geometric and behavioral organization of the absolute territories of the African weaver ants (Oecophylla longinoda) and harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex), and of the "spatiotemporal territories" of honey ants (Myrmecocystus mimicus) are described, and simple cost-benefit models are developed to illustrate the economic defensibility of each type of territory.

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