Nutritional biology of the turtle ant, Zacryptocerus rohweri, morphological specializations of the digestive tract and associated behaviors
AuthorRoche, Robin Kimberly, 1962-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe Turtle Ant, Zacryptocerus rohweri, is an arboreal, polydomous ant commonly nesting in the dead branches of Palo Verde. Colonies are small with a dimorphic worker caste. Their diet was observed to be primarily liquid, but pollen may also be important. Behavioral studies revealed a high degree of both oral and abdominal trophallaxis. The morphology of the digestive tract of Z. rohweri is also described. The proventriculus is covered with clusters of small spines which act as a fine filter of food. Ultrastructural study reveals bacteria amongst the microvilli of midgut epithelial cells. The hindgut consists of an enlarged pouch filled with large masses of bacteria of three major morphotypes. Newly emerged individuals appear to acquire these microorganisms through abdominal trophallaxis of older workers in the colony. The hypothesis that abdominal trophallaxis is a means of transferring hindgut bacteria which may add important nutrients to their limited diet is proposed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College