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Title: Behavioral response to heat stress of twig-nesting canopy ants

Tropical forests experience a relatively stable climate, but are not thermally uniform. The tropical forest canopy is hotter and thermally more variable than the understory. Heat stress in the canopy is expected to increase with global warming, potentially threatening its inhabitants. Here, we assess the impact of heating on the most abundant tropical canopy arthropods—ants. While foragers can escape hot branches, brood and workers inside twig nests might be unable to avoid heat stress. We examined nest choice and absconding behavior—nest evacuation in response to heat stress—of four common twig-nesting ant genera. We found that genera nesting almost exclusively in the canopy occupy smaller cavities compared toCamponotusandCrematogasterthat nest across all forest strata.Crematogasterants absconded at the lowest temperatures in heating experiments with both natural and artificial nests.Cephalotes workers were overall less likely to abscond from their nests. This is the first test of behavioral thermoregulation in tropical forest canopy ants, and it highlights different strategies and sensitivities to heat stress. Behavioral avoidance is the first line of defense against heat stress and will be crucial for small ectotherms facing increasing regional and local temperatures.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Springer Science + Business Media
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X Size: p. 947-955
["p. 947-955"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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