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Data from: Evolution of thorax architecture in ant castes highlights trade-off between flight and ground behaviors

Citation

Keller, Roberto A.; Peeters, Christian; Beldade, Patrícia (2014), Data from: Evolution of thorax architecture in ant castes highlights trade-off between flight and ground behaviors, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d62p2

Abstract

The concerted evolution of morphological and behavioral specializations has compelling examples in ant castes. Unique to ants is a marked divergence between winged queens and wingless workers, but morphological specializations for behaviors on the ground have been overlooked. We analyzed thorax morphology of queens and workers in species from 21 of the 25 ant subfamilies. We uncovered unique skeletomuscular modifications in workers that presumably increase power and flexibility of head–thorax articulation, emphasizing that workers are not simply wingless versions of queens. We also identified two distinct types of queens and showed repeated evolutionary associations with strategies of colony foundation. Solitary founding queens that hunt have a more worker-like thorax. Our results reveal that ants invest in the relative size of thorax segments according to their tasks. Versatility of head movements allows for better manipulation of food and objects, which arguably contributed to the ants’ ecological and evolutionary success.

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