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Ant Ecology$
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Lori Lach, Catherine Parr, and Kirsti Abbott

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199544639

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199544639.001.0001

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Nestmate Recognition

Nestmate Recognition

(p.194) Chapter 11 Nestmate Recognition
Ant Ecology

Patrizia d'Ettorre

Alain Lenoir

Oxford University Press

The ability to recognize group members is a key characteristic of social life. Ants are typically very efficient in recognizing non‐group members and they aggressively reject them in order to protect their colonies. There are a range of different recognition mechanisms including prior association, phenotype matching, and recognition alleles. The concept of kin recognition should be considered different from that of nestmate recognition. Most of the available studies address the nestmate recognition level, namely the discrimination of nestmates from non‐nestmates, independently of actual relatedness. Indirect and direct evidence identify long‐chain cuticular hydrocarbons as the best candidates to act as recognition cues in ants, even if other chemical substances could also play a role, at least in some ant species. The relative importance of genetic and environmental factors on the expression and variation of the cuticular hydrocarbon profile vary among species and is linked to life history strategies.

Keywords:   kin recognition, nestmate recognition, cuticular hydrocarbons, prior association, phenotype matching, recognition alleles, environmental factors, recognition cues

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