Abstract 1. Data were compiled from the literature and our own studies on 24 ant species to characterise the effects of body size and temperature on forager running speed.
2. Running speed increases with temperature in a manner consistent with the effects of temperature on metabolic rate and the kinetic properties of muscles.
3. The exponent of the body mass-running speed allometry ranged from 0.14 to 0.34 with a central tendency of approximately 0.25. This body mass scaling is consistent with both the model of elastic similarity, and a model combining dynamic similarity with available metabolic power.
4. Even after controlling for body size or temperature, a substantial amount of inter-specific variation in running speed remains. Species with certain lifestyles [e.g. nomadic group predators, species which forage at extreme (>60 °C) temperatures] may have been selected for faster running speeds.
5. Although ants have a similar scaling exponent to mammals for the running speed allometry, they run slower than predicted compared with a hypothetical mammal of similar size. This may in part reflect physiological differences between invertebrates and vertebrates.