How colony growth affects forager intrusion between neighboring harvester ant colonies

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*[Colonies of the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, adjust the direction & length of foraging trails in response to the foraging behavior of their conspecific neighbors. In the absence of any interaction with its neighbor, a mature colony expands its foraging range at a rate of 0.85 +- 0.15 m per day. Exclusion experiments show that if a colony is prevented from using its foraging trails, the neighbors of that colony will enter its foraging range within 10 days. Exclusion experiments were performed with 3 age classes of colonies: young (1 year old), intermediate (3-4 years old), & old (5 years old+). Colonies 3-4 years old are most likely to expand foraging ranges, and to retain newly-gained areas. To examine the relation of colony age & colony size, colonies of known age were excavated. Colonies increase greatly in size in years 3 & 4.]

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  • Deborah M. Gordon

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