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Social parasites of ant colonies

Weites, M. G. (2014) Social parasites of ant colonies. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Parasitism affects a wide range of organisms and the interactions between the host and the parasite can lead to an evolutionary arms race. Parasitism comes in different forms and one of them is social parasitism. In social parasitism, an organism parasitises on the relationship between members of the host species. Ant colonies are home to numerous social parasites that take advantage of how ant workers take care of the queen and her brood. In this thesis we will focus on socially parasitic ants and butterflies. Their ecology and the different ways and mimicries used to be accepted into the colony of their host, are observed. Also the evolution of these parasitic life styles and possible evolutionary arms race are discussed and recent data is used to support the claims that are made. Parasitic ants can be divided into different groups: species that feed on ant regurgitations (xenobionts), species that kill queen and take over a colony (temporary parasites), slave-makers and species that do not have workers and who’s brood is cared for in a host colony (inquilines). The evolutionary pathways to these groups are complex and the exact way of evolution remains unsolved. The evolution of parasitic butterflies seems to be somewhat clearer: mutualistic species gave rise to predatory species which in turn gave give to cuckoo species. There was evidence for an evolutionary arms race between parasitic ants and their host but no evidence has been for one between parasitic butterflies and their host ants.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:58
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:58

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