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1.  Worker Personality and Its Association with Spatially Structured Division of Labor 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e79616.
Division of labor is a defining characteristic of social insects and fundamental to their ecological success. Many of the numerous tasks essential for the survival of the colony must be performed at a specific location. Consequently, spatial organization is an integral aspect of division of labor. The mechanisms organizing the spatial distribution of workers, separating inside and outside workers without central control, is an essential, but so far neglected aspect of division of labor. In this study, we investigate the behavioral mechanisms governing the spatial distribution of individual workers and its physiological underpinning in the ant Myrmica rubra. By investigating worker personalities we uncover position-associated behavioral syndromes. This context-independent and temporally stable set of correlated behaviors (positive association between movements and attraction towards light) could promote the basic separation between inside (brood tenders) and outside workers (foragers). These position-associated behavior syndromes are coupled with a high probability to perform tasks, located at the defined position, and a characteristic cuticular hydrocarbon profile. We discuss the potentially physiological causes for the observed behavioral syndromes and highlight how the study of animal personalities can provide new insights for the study of division of labor and self-organized processes in general.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079616
PMCID: PMC3907378  PMID: 24497911
2.  Temnothorax pilagens sp. n. – a new slave-making species of the tribe Formicoxenini from North America (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) 
ZooKeys  2014;65-77.
A new species of the ant genus Temnothorax Forel, 1890 – Temnothorax pilagens sp. n. is described from eastern North America. T. pilagens sp. n. is an obligate slave-making ant with two known hosts: T. longispinosus (Roger, 1863) and T. ambiguus (Emery, 1895). A differential diagnosis against Temnothorax duloticus (Wesson, 1937), the other dulotic congener from the Nearctic, is presented and a biological characteristics of the new species is given.
doi:10.3897/zookeys.368.6423
PMCID: PMC3904070  PMID: 24478583
Temnothorax; Nearctic region; dulosis; slave-raiding behavior; morphometrics
3.  Raiders from the sky: slavemaker founding queens select for aggressive host colonies 
Biology Letters  2012;8(5):748-750.
Reciprocal selection pressures in host–parasite systems drive coevolutionary arms races that lead to advanced adaptations in both opponents. In the interactions between social parasites and their hosts, aggression is one of the major behavioural traits under selection. In a field manipulation, we aimed to disentangle the impact of slavemaking ants and nest density on aggression of Temnothorax longispinosus ants. An early slavemaker mating flight provided us with the unique opportunity to study the influence of host aggression and demography on founding decisions and success. We discovered that parasite queens avoided colony foundation in parasitized areas and were able to capture more brood from less aggressive host colonies. Host colony aggression remained consistent over the two-month experiment, but did not respond to our manipulation. However, as one-fifth of all host colonies were successfully invaded by parasite queens, slavemaker nest foundation acts as a strong selection event selecting for high aggression in host colonies.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2012.0499
PMCID: PMC3441009  PMID: 22809720
parasite; personality; dispersal; aggression; fitness
4.  Increased host aggression as an induced defense against slave-making ants 
Behavioral Ecology  2011;22(2):255-260.
Slave-making ants reduce the fitness of surrounding host colonies through regular raids, causing the loss of brood and frequently queen and worker death. Consequently, hosts developed defenses against slave raids such as specific recognition and aggression toward social parasites, and indeed, we show that host ants react more aggressively toward slavemakers than toward nonparasitic competitors. Permanent behavioral defenses can be costly, and if social parasite impact varies in time and space, inducible defenses, which are only expressed after slavemaker detection, can be adaptive. We demonstrate for the first time an induced defense against slave-making ants: Cues from the slavemaker Protomognathus americanus caused an unspecific but long-lasting behavioral response in Temnothorax host ants. A 5-min within-nest encounter with a dead slavemaker raised the aggression level in T. longispinosus host colonies. Contrarily, encounters with nonparasitic competitors did not elicit aggressive responses toward non-nestmates. Increased aggression can be adaptive if a slavemaker encounter reliably indicates a forthcoming attack and if aggression increases postraid survival. Host aggression was elevated over 3 days, showing the ability of host ants to remember parasite encounters. The response disappeared after 2 weeks, possibly because by then the benefits of increased aggression counterbalance potential costs associated with it.
doi:10.1093/beheco/arq191
PMCID: PMC3071747  PMID: 22476194
aggression; behavior; parasites; phenotypic plasticity; social insects

Results 1-4 (4)