In-nest behavior by tandem recruiters of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus: effects of context and quality

J. Y. Cho, S. C. Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social insects often share information via recruitment of nestmates, thus enhancing the benefits of group living. Many species vary recruitment behavior to indicate target quality, but it is unknown whether any recruiters modulate a specific behavior to indicate target type. We hypothesized that tandem recruiters in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus share information about both target type (food vs. nest) and quality. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the behavior of tandem recruiters inside the home nest, where they have many interactions with nestmates before leading a follower to the target. We looked for recruiter behaviors that might indicate recipients of target quality or type. During our observations, we found two conspicuous behaviors that the recruiters perform on nestmates: shaking display (moving the body in a fast and forceful burst in several directions) and vigorous antennation (rapid antennation in wide angles). Food recruiters perform a higher number of vigorous antennations and shaking displays than nest recruiters, which suggests that these behaviors may convey information about target type to nestmates. We also found an effect of quality: nest recruiters varied the number of vigorous antennations with nest quality, although food recruiters did not. However, we found no effect of either vigorous antennations or shaking displays on recipients, who did not show an increased response to food or nest recruitment, compared to controls. Future study should investigate the function of these behaviors, and whether they provide information about target type, especially when colonies are simultaneously making decisions about food and nest sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Collective decision-making
  • Communication
  • Emigration
  • Foraging
  • Recruitment
  • Temnothorax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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