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Foraging ecology of the giant Amazonian ant Dinoponera gigantea (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Ponerinae): activity schedule, diet and spatial foraging patterns

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This study provides a detailed account of the natural history and foraging biology of the ponerine ant Dinoponera gigantea in a rainforest in north Brazil. The species nests on the ground and the colonies contain 70-96 workers. Ant activity is negatively correlated with temperature, and is more intense at dawn and dusk. Foragers leave the nest independently and search for food individually on the leaf litter, within ca 10 m around the nest. Workers are opportunistic feeders that collect seeds and fruits, and hunt for live prey as well as scavenge for dead animal matter. The dry weight of food items ranges from <10 mg (spiders, insect parts) to >400 mg (seeds, fruits). There is no nestmate recruitment during the search for or retrieval of food, irrespective of food type and size. Foragers have a high directional fidelity, and ants from neighbouring colonies may engage in ritualized territorial contests at the border of their foraging areas. The foraging ecology of D. gigantea is compared with other ponerine species living in tropical forests, as well as with other ant groups showing similar behavioural patterns.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 30, 2002

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