Arthropods Associate with their Red Wood ant Host without Matching Nestmate Recognition Cues

Arthropods Associate with their Red Wood ant Host without Matching Nestmate Recognition Cues Social insect colonies provide a valuable resource that attracts and offers shelter to a large community of arthropods. Previous research has suggested that many specialist parasites of social insects chemically mimic their host in order to evade aggression. In the present study, we carry out a systematic study to test how common such chemical deception is across a group of 22 arthropods that are associated with red wood ants (Formica rufa group). In contrast to the examples of chemical mimicry documented in some highly specialized parasites in previous studies, we find that most of the rather unspecialized red wood ant associates surveyed did not use mimicry of the cuticular hydrocarbon recognition cues to evade host detection. Instead, we found that myrmecophiles with lower cuticular hydrocarbon concentrations provoked less host aggression. Therefore, some myrmecophiles with low hydrocarbon concentrations appear to evade host detection via a strategy known as chemical insignificance. Others showed no chemical disguise at all and, instead, relied on behavioral adaptations such as particular defense or evasion tactics, in order to evade host aggression. Overall, this study indicates that unspecialized myrmecophiles do not require the matching of host recognition cues and advanced strategies of chemical mimicry, but can integrate in a hostile ant nest via either chemical insignificance or specific behavioral adaptations. Journal of Chemical Ecology Springer Journals

Arthropods Associate with their Red Wood ant Host without Matching Nestmate Recognition Cues

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Springer US
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Life Sciences; Ecology; Biochemistry, general; Entomology; Biological Microscopy; Agriculture
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