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Data from: Tricks of the trade: mechanism of brood theft in an ant

Cite this dataset

Paul, Bishwarup; Annagiri, Sumana (2019). Data from: Tricks of the trade: mechanism of brood theft in an ant [Dataset]. Dryad.


Thievery is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom, social insects not being an exception. Brood is invaluable for the survival of social insect colonies and brood theft is well documented in ants. In many species the stolen brood act as slaves in the thief colony as they take up tasks related to foraging, defence and colony maintenance. Slave-making (dulotic) ants are at an advantage as they gain workforce without investing in rearing immature young, and several slave-making species have been recorded in temperate regions. In the current study we investigate brood theft in a primitively eusocial ponerine ant Diacamma indicum that inhabits the tropics. In the context of colony relocation we asked how thieves steal brood and what victim colonies do to prevent theft. While exposed nests increased colonies' vulnerability, the relocation process itself did not enhance the chances of theft. Various aggressive interactions, in particular immobilization of intruders helped in preventing theft. Thieves that acted quickly, stayed furtive and stole unguarded brood were found to be successful. This comprehensive study of behavioural mechanism of theft reveals that these are the 'tricks' adopted by thieves.

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