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Title: Adhesion and Running Speed of a Tropical Arboreal Ant (Cephalotes atratus) on Rough, Narrow, and Inclined Substrates
Synopsis Arboreal ants must navigate variably sized and inclined linear structures across a range of substrate roughness when foraging tens of meters above the ground. To achieve this, arboreal ants use specialized adhesive pads and claws to maintain effective attachment to canopy substrates. Here, we explored the effect of substrate structure, including small and large-scale substrate roughness, substrate diameter, and substrate orientation (inclination), on adhesion and running speed of workers of one common, intermediately-sized, arboreal ant species. Normal (orthogonal) and shear (parallel) adhesive performance varied on sandpaper and natural leaf substrates, particularly at small size scales, but running speed on these substrates remained relatively constant. Running speed also varied minimally when running up and down inclined substrates, except when the substrate was positioned completely vertical. On vertical surfaces, ants ran significantly faster down than up. Ant running speed was slower on relatively narrow substrates. The results of this study show that variation in the physical properties of tree surfaces differentially affects arboreal ant adhesive and locomotor performance. Specifically, locomotor performance was much more robust to surface roughness than was adhesive performance. The results provide a basis for understanding how performance correlates of functional morphology contribute to determining local ant distributions and foraging decisions in the tropical rainforest canopy.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Integrative and Comparative Biology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
829 to 839
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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