Tournaments and slavery in a desert ant

Bert Hölldobler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Many species of ants engage in physical fighting when territorial borders are challenged. In contrast, colonies of the honeypot ant species Myrmecocystus mimicus conduct ritualized tournaments, in which hundreds of ants perform highly stereotyped display fights. Opposing colonies summon their worker forces to the tournament area by means of an alarm-recruitment system. When one colony is considerably stronger than the other, the tournament quickly ends, and the weaker colony is raided and its ants "enslaved." This is the first example of intraspecific slavery recorded in ants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)912-914
Number of pages3
Issue number4242
StatePublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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