Role of Early Experience in Mixed-colony Odor Recognition in the Ants Manica rubida and Formica selysi


Laboratoire d'Ethologie et Sociobiologie, U. A. C. N. R. S. no. 667, Avenue Jean Baptiste Clément, F-93430 Villetaneuse.


An experimental model of mixed societies of ants was used to test the effect of early conditioning to a mixed colony odor on interspecific recognition after various periods of separation, with Manica rubida (Myrmicinae) and Formica selysi (Formicinae). Recognition was evaluated by recording the behaviour of individuals interacting after they had been grouped in mixed societies. The observed frequency and nature of these interactions depended on the way the societies were made up (whether with the same or different species, and with or without previous exposure to that species). The recognition displayed by the workers was much more altered in interspecific than in intraspecific groupings, which is evidence of the existence of some species recognition. In addition, the adult is capable of recognizing the olfactory characteristics of its group, the group odor would be a mixture of individual odors.