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Naturwissenschaften. 2001 Aug;88(8):343-6.

Seasonal patterns in the orientation system of the migratory ant Pachycondyla marginata.

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  • 1Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas FĂ­sicas, Rua Xavier Sigaud 150, 22290-180, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.


Route directions of migrations by the neotropical termite-hunting ant Pachycondyla marginata at a forest reserve in Southeast Brazil were analysed by circular statistic. Colony movement patterns were compared between the rainy/hot and dry/cold seasons. Migrations during the dry/cold season are significantly oriented 13 degrees with the magnetic North-South axis, while rainy/hot migrations do not exhibit a preferred direction. This result is discussed considering the hypothesis that P. marginata ants may use the geomagnetic field as an orientation cue for migrations in the dry/cold season. The presence of magnetic iron oxides in the head and abdomen of P. marginata is consistent with this suggestion.

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