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Habitat features and colony characteristics influencing ant personality and its fitness consequences

Citation

Maák, István et al. (2020), Habitat features and colony characteristics influencing ant personality and its fitness consequences, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g79cnp5nh

Abstract

Several factors can influence individual and group behavioral variation that can have important fitness consequences. In this study, we tested how two habitat types (semi-natural meadows and meadows invaded by Solidago plants) and factors like colony and worker size and nest density influence behavioral (activity, meanderness, exploration, aggression, nest displacement) variation on different levels of the social organization of Myrmica rubra ants and how these might affect the colony productivity. We assumed that the factors within the two habitat types exert different selective pressure on individual and colony behavioral variation that affects colony productivity. Our results showed individual-/colony-specific expression of both mean and residual behavioral variation of the studied behavioral traits. Although habitat type did not have any direct effect, habitat-dependent factors, like colony size and nest density influenced the individual mean and residual variation of several traits. We also found personality at the individual level and at the colony level. Exploration positively influenced the total- and worker production in both habitats. Worker aggression influenced all the productivity parameters in semi-natural meadows, whereas activity had a positive effect on the worker and total production in invaded meadows. Our results suggest that habitat type, through its environmental characteristics, can affect different behavioral traits both at the individual and colony level and those with a high influence on colony productivity will form the personality of individuals. Our results highlight the need for complex studies on the behavioral variation of social insects to fully understand the effects shaping their behavior and productivity parameters.

Funding

Polish National Science Centre, Award: 2015/17/B/NZ8/02492

Polish National Science Centre, Award: 2015/17/B/NZ8/02492