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Protein abundance and size correlation in monomoroph ants

protein size preotein feed

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#1 Offline skocko76 - Posted April 13 2020 - 7:12 AM

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Perhaps this question has been mulled over and over again, but I'm going to ask it anyway.

I recently identified one of my young colonies as Aphaenogaster sp (likely A. epirotes), and as I realize they are largely carnivorous and monomorph, I started pondering the following question:

What would happen if the colony was underfed vs overfed with protein?

I guess the answer is straightforward: The queen would lay less eggs, and some eggs/larvae would get fed to the others - thus less colony growth.

On the other hand, if overfed, the queen would lay a lot of eggs and the colony would boom.

 

But, apart from the obvious effect, I want to know if anybody has made an observation in the following:

1 - would the larvae develop faster? (i.e. grow to the required size to pupate sooner due to abundance of protein)

2 - would the larvae produce bigger workers? (in monomorph colonies there are still size differences between workers). I noticed my C. scutellaris to be almost twice smaller that the workers in wilderness (might have to do with colony age)

 

All thoughts/opinions and observations are welcome :) Please share :)


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#2 Offline FeedTheAnts - Posted April 13 2020 - 8:08 AM

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I've observed Formica larvae laying nearly dormant for days on end. Then as soon as the colony is fed a large protein meal they seem to double in size overnight. A slight size difference in workers (besides the obviously small size of nanitics) is apparent in my Crematogaster colony. Some workers are simply larger built. There is no difference in their anatomy or proportions, they are just bigger in every way. I think some ants with monomorphic workers show larger degrees of size difference (Formica are a good example). The reason they aren't considered polymorphic is that the proportions of the body are the same. It's the difference between a person being 6 foot 8 inches and a person being 6'8 with 75% of that height being legs that are 45 inches in circumference.


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I accidentally froze all my ants 


#3 Offline Whitelotus - Posted April 13 2020 - 10:58 AM

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I have only seen rather obvious results old this with my old Tetramorium colony. 

 

1)I have not noticed any eggs/larvae/pupae growing at faster rates

 

2) The size of the workers were larger with an abundance of protein added to their outworld

   The queen of course would not lay as many eggs and each worker would have to ration the protein to each egg carefully as to not starve the brood.

 

If you are going to add an abundance for larger workers, make sure it is consistent, other wise results will vary.


Edited by Whitelotus, April 13 2020 - 10:58 AM.

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#4 Offline PurdueEntomology - Posted April 13 2020 - 11:12 AM

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https://www.bio.fsu....ions/1999-8.pdf

https://www2.ib.unic...iveira_2014.pdf

https://www.research...ae5de000000.pdf

 

Here are some links that will give some guidance on your question. See the discussion sections of the papers for a synopsis of experimental results. Also look through each papers references for further reading.  Good science leads to good ant culturing.  At times what we think it should be is not what it is. 


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#5 Offline PurdueEntomology - Posted April 13 2020 - 11:16 AM

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As for polymorphism and monomorphism this paper will be of interest:

https://www.annualre...o-020117-043357


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#6 Offline skocko76 - Posted April 14 2020 - 1:11 AM

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I've observed Formica larvae laying nearly dormant for days on end. Then as soon as the colony is fed a large protein meal they seem to double in size overnight. A slight size difference in workers (besides the obviously small size of nanitics) is apparent in my Crematogaster colony. Some workers are simply larger built. There is no difference in their anatomy or proportions, they are just bigger in every way. I think some ants with monomorphic workers show larger degrees of size difference (Formica are a good example). The reason they aren't considered polymorphic is that the proportions of the body are the same. It's the difference between a person being 6 foot 8 inches and a person being 6'8 with 75% of that height being legs that are 45 inches in circumference.

 

Thanks for the reply FeedTheAnts! Yes, I am aware of the difference between ants in polymorph species. 

The reason I mentioned monomorph species is because I have already observed the effect of the diet on polymorphic Messor barbarus. I had a colony that I fed little insect protein, and one that I fed it a lot. Let me share my experience on them;

I believe this was stated previously by other people, but my observation confirms that feeding a lot of insect protein results in increase of major workers being produced.

Sounds counterintuitive since majors are primarily used to crack open seed, which would make you think that the colony that relies on seed more, would want to produce more of majors. 

One might say that majors double as warriors, so in order to hunt more insects, they would need more majors. Well, In my experience, majors are more cowardly than minors - who are aggressive, while majors keep flailing, tripping over their huge heads, and running home in hysteria. Quite funny actually. The behaviour might change with the size of the colony though. Majors are more precious since more food was invested in them, so I guess it makes sense to take better care of them while the colony is around 500 workers or less.

 

I guess I was thinking of Aphaenogaster as Messor's carnivorous, monomorph cousins and wondered whether them too would produce bulkier workers with abundance of food.

It's likely. But I don't have a control colony to compare in the future. 


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#7 Offline Temperateants - Posted April 14 2020 - 3:39 AM

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My Formica colonies have new workers that are almost twice as big as their nanitics. My small Tetramorium has been fed a lot of protein, so now their workers are over twice as large as the nanitics.


Check out my Youtube Channel! https://www.youtube....xh-HaScAuE5CShQ

Check out my Crematogaster Journal! https://www.formicul...e-2#entry141180

 

 






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