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dc.contributor.advisorDornhaus, Annaen
dc.contributor.authorCharbonneau, Daniel
dc.creatorCharbonneau, Danielen
dc.date.accessioned2016-11-08T18:59:44Z
dc.date.available2016-11-08T18:59:44Z
dc.date.issued2016
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10150/621287
dc.description.abstract"All cold-blooded animals and a large number of warm-blooded ones spend an unexpectedly large proportion of their time doing nothing at all, or at any rate, nothing in particular." (Elton 1927) Many animals are remarkably "lazy", spending >50% of their waking hours "resting" . This is common across all taxa, ecologies, and life histories, including what are commonly considered to be highly industrious animals: the social insects (e.g., Aesop's Fable 'The Grasshopper and the Ant'). This dissertation broadly seeks to explain a phenomenon that has long been observed, but never adequately addressed, by asking: 'why are there 'lazy' ants?' First, I established that inactivity was a real and ecologically relevant phenomenon in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus by testing whether inactivity was a lab artifact. I then showed that inactive workers comprise a behaviorally distinct group of workers that are commonly overlooked in studies looking at colony function, though they typically represent at least half of the individuals within social insect colonies. I then tested a set of mutually non-exclusive hypotheses explaining inactivity in social insects: that (1) inactivity is a form of social "cheating" in which egg-laying workers selfishly invest in their own reproduction rather than contribute to colony fitness, (2) inactive workers comprise a pool of reserve workers used to mitigate the effects of fluctuations in colony workload, (3) inactivity is the result of physiological constraints on worker age such that young and old workers may less active due to inexperience/physical vulnerability, and physiological deterioration respectively, (4) inactive workers are performing an as-yet unidentified function, such as playing a role in communication and acting as food stores, or repletes, and that (5) inactive workers represent the 'slow' end of intra-nest variation in worker 'pace-of-life'. Inactivity is linked to worker age, reproduction, and a potential function as food stores for the colony. These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, likely form a 'syndrome' of behaviors common to inactive social insect workers. Their simultaneous contribution to worker inactivity may explain the difficulty in finding a simple answer to this deceptively simple question.
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en
dc.subjectInactivityen
dc.subjectSocial Insecten
dc.subjectTask Allocationen
dc.subjectEntomology and Insect Scienceen
dc.subjectCollective Organizationen
dc.titleWhy are There 'Lazy' Ants? How Worker Inactivity can Arise in Social Insect Coloniesen_US
dc.typetexten
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen
dc.contributor.committeememberDornhaus, Annaen
dc.contributor.committeememberBronstein, Judithen
dc.contributor.committeememberWheeler, Dianaen
dc.contributor.committeememberFewell, Jenniferen
dc.description.releaseRelease after 26-Aug-2018en
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen
thesis.degree.disciplineEntomology and Insect Scienceen
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en
html.description.abstract"All cold-blooded animals and a large number of warm-blooded ones spend an unexpectedly large proportion of their time doing nothing at all, or at any rate, nothing in particular." (Elton 1927) Many animals are remarkably "lazy", spending >50% of their waking hours "resting" . This is common across all taxa, ecologies, and life histories, including what are commonly considered to be highly industrious animals: the social insects (e.g., Aesop's Fable 'The Grasshopper and the Ant'). This dissertation broadly seeks to explain a phenomenon that has long been observed, but never adequately addressed, by asking: 'why are there 'lazy' ants?' First, I established that inactivity was a real and ecologically relevant phenomenon in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus by testing whether inactivity was a lab artifact. I then showed that inactive workers comprise a behaviorally distinct group of workers that are commonly overlooked in studies looking at colony function, though they typically represent at least half of the individuals within social insect colonies. I then tested a set of mutually non-exclusive hypotheses explaining inactivity in social insects: that (1) inactivity is a form of social "cheating" in which egg-laying workers selfishly invest in their own reproduction rather than contribute to colony fitness, (2) inactive workers comprise a pool of reserve workers used to mitigate the effects of fluctuations in colony workload, (3) inactivity is the result of physiological constraints on worker age such that young and old workers may less active due to inexperience/physical vulnerability, and physiological deterioration respectively, (4) inactive workers are performing an as-yet unidentified function, such as playing a role in communication and acting as food stores, or repletes, and that (5) inactive workers represent the 'slow' end of intra-nest variation in worker 'pace-of-life'. Inactivity is linked to worker age, reproduction, and a potential function as food stores for the colony. These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, likely form a 'syndrome' of behaviors common to inactive social insect workers. Their simultaneous contribution to worker inactivity may explain the difficulty in finding a simple answer to this deceptively simple question.


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