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J Insect Physiol. 2005 Mar;51(3):297-304.

Triggering and persistence of trail-laying in foragers of the ant Lasius niger.

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Laboratoire de Lutte Biologique et Ecologie Spatiale, Science Department, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, Bruxelles B-1050, Belgium.


In the ant Lasius niger, the ability to ingest their own desired volume is the key criterion that rules the recruiting behaviour of scouts. This volume acts as a threshold triggering the trail-laying response of foragers. In this paper, we show that this desired volume is specific to each individual and is kept constant over successive trips to a food source. This individual specificity contrasts with the variability of all individual desired volumes within the colony. In this study, it is also shown that, among L. niger foragers, 14% never participate in the formation of the chemical pathway and never lay a trail over successive trips. Among the others foragers, interindividual differences in the persistence of trail-laying behaviour over successive trips are observed but do not rely on an individual specialisation, in which some ants would lay a trail more frequently and persistently than other scouts. We discuss how an individual in the foraging behaviour can play an essential role in the regulation of food retrieval dynamics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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