Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Decision making during the scouting behavior of the slave-making ant Protomognathus americanus
MCZ 101, 26 Oxford Street, Harvard University
Collective decision making is important for social insects living in highly organized societies. However, often only a few individuals acquire information relevant for the entire colony. In the slave-making ant Protomognathus americanus, workers focus on a single task: searching for and raiding host colonies to replenish their slave workforce. Single scouts search for colonies of their Temnothorax hosts, which are subsequently attacked by a group of raiding slavemaker workers. Scouts and raiders risk being killed by host workers defending their colony. Considering both the raiding risk and the potential benefit, slavemaker workers have to make several decisions: when to start scouting, whether or not to participate in scouting or raiding events, and whether a discovered host colony is worth attacking. I investigated the scouting behavior of P. americanus using a combination of behavioral observations and chemical analyses, in order to elucidate the course of these crucial interspecific interactions between a social parasite and its host.
The talk is free and open to the public. The meeting is readily accessible via public transportation. Parking is available in the Oxford Street Garage with advance arrangement, as described here, or (usually but not always) at spaces on nearby streets. Everyone is also welcome to join us for dinner before the talk (beginning at 6:00 PM) at Cambridge Common restaurant, on 1667 Massachusetts Ave.
CEC meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month from October through May. The evening schedule typically includes an informal dinner (6:00 to 7:15 PM) followed by our formal meeting (7:30 – 9:00 PM). The latter begins with club business and is followed by a 50 minute entomology related presentation. Membership is open to amateur and professional entomologists.