Different effects of temperature on foraging activity schedules in sympatric Myrmecia ants

Piyankarie Jayatilaka*, Ajay Narendra, Samuel F. Reid, Paul Cooper, Jochen Zeil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animals avoid temperatures that constrain foraging by restricting activity to specific times of the day or year. However, because temperature alters the availability of food resources, it is difficult to separate temperature- dependent effects on foraging and the occupation of temporal niches. By studying two congeneric, sympatric Myrmeciaants we isolated the effect of temperature and investigated whether temperature affects foraging schedules and causes the two ants to be active at distinct times of the day or year. We monitored foraging activity and identified the ants' temperature tolerance in the laboratory by determining (1) critical thermal minima and maxima (CT min and CT max) and (2) the relationship between walking speed and temperature. Ants of Myrmecia croslandiwere diurnal throughout the year, but ceased above-ground activity during winter. Surface temperature at the onset of foraging was 9. 8-30. 1°C, while their laboratory CT min and CT max were 10. 4 and 48. 5°C, respectively. Time of foraging onset was significantly influenced by surface temperature at time of sunrise and of onset. Ants of Myrmecia pyriformis were nocturnal throughout the year. Surface temperature at the onset of foraging was 5. 4-26. 2°C, while their laboratory CT min and CT max were 8. 2 and 41. 6°C, respectively. Time of foraging onset was not influenced by surface temperature, but solely by sunset time. We conclude that temperature determines the timing of foraging as well as the daily and seasonal foraging activity in M. croslandi, but has less obvious effects on M. pyriformis. In both species, CT max was greater than temperatures at the natural foraging times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2730-2738
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume214
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ants
  • Diurnal
  • Nocturnal
  • Temperature tolerance
  • Walking speed

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