With over 12, 000 described species, ants, from the family Formicidae, are the most diverse of all social insects. They occupy “virtually all major terrestrial habitats” displaying a “remarkable range of social behaviors, foraging habits and associations” with other organisms (Bolton et al, 2006; as cited in Ward, 2007).
A. 1. Ant’s social organization and feeding habits
Typically ants include three castes: winged, fertile, and females or queens; wingless, infertile females or workers; and winged male. Those ordinarily seen are workers. In some colonies ants of the worker type may become soldiers or members of other specialized castes. (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004)
Different species differ widely in their duties and may be carnivorous, herbivorous, or omnivorous. Members of some species eat honeydew from plants infested with aphids and certain other insects; others called dairying ants, feed and protect the aphids ad “milk” them by stroking. Harvester ants eat and store seeds; these sometimes spout around the nest, leading to the erroneous belief that these ants cultivate food.
(The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004)
A. 2. Reproduction and population
Scientists from CNRS found that colonies in tropical forests tend to produce numerous, low-quality queens. In contrast, colonies in the temperate forests tend to produce less, high-quality queens. In addition, they found that if independent foundation of new colonies becomes ineffective, colonies multiply by splitting up the group. (CRNS, 2008)
The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is a very invasive pest in Southern U.S.A. and in all parts of the world. Scientists determined the arrival of these ants is by the unloading of cargos at the port of Mobile, Ala i...
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D. Ants as bio-indicators
In terms of numerical abundance, size and species richness, ants are a prominent group in many terrestrial ecosystems. Ants also occupy higher tropic levels and often used specialized niches; suggest that they may be good bio-indicator of various environmental parameters (Majer, 1983).
Touyama (2002) revealed that hypogeal ants were useful and convenient bio indicators of soil faunal richness, based on the data obtained in Hiroshima Prefecture. Ant species richness significantly correlated with three soil faunal variables: number of orders, degree of nature richness and abundance in lower-altitudinal area. In higher-altitudinal area, however, there were not obvious pattern between ant species’ richness and soil faunal variables. Careful use of ants as bio indicator can economize our sampling effort and time.
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