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The nest architecture of underground ant nests was studied in Formica pallidefulva. These ants build shallow (30-45 cm deep) nests, which consisted of more or less vertical shafts that bear chambers. Shafts appeared to be modular units of nest growth; nests were enlarged by adding more shafts or extending previously existing ones. The nests were top-heavy, their volume declining exponentially with depth. The total volume of the nest was strongly correlated with the number of worker occupying the nest. Several rules and templates that may be used by workers for nest construction were determined: (a) chambers are formed in the direction of the tunnels leading up to them, (b) the amount of soil excavated per unit time was related to the soil temperature and the moisture content of soil. The amount of time and energy required to construct a typical nest were estimated using digging ability parameters estimated in the lab. It was found that if a colony was to move twice a year, it would expend 21% of its energy intake and 6% of its worker time on nest excavation.
Formica Pallidefulva, Nest, Excavation, Architecture, Ant
Date of Defense
September 25, 2002.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Biological Science in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Walter R. Tschinkel, Professor Directing Thesis; David Houle, Committee Member; Don R. Levitan, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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