Open Access: CC BY 4.0


Horna-Lowell, E., Neumann, K.M., O'Fallon, S., Rubio, A. & Pinter-Wollman, N.

Year: 2021


Personality of ant colonies (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) – underlying mechanisms and ecological consequences

Journal: Myrmecological News

Volume: 31

Pages: 47-59

Type of contribution: Review Article

Supplementary material: No


Consistent differences in behavior among individual animals, also known as animal personalities, are ubiquitous. In social insects, there is more than one biological scale at which individuals differ from one another in behavior: workers and colonies. In most ants, natural selection acts at the level of the colony, therefore differences in collective behavior among colonies can have important ecological and evolutionary consequences. Here, we review the recent literature on consistent individual differences among ant colonies in their collective behavior, that is, colony personality. We discuss the causes and consequences of colony personalities and highlight unanswered questions that can be examined uniquely by studying ants. We argue that ants are a distinctive study system for examining the links between the mechanisms that underlie the emergence of personality and the ecological consequences of personalities because of their ability to shape their local environment, that is, their nest. We end with an example of how the study of colony personality might be applied to identify solutions for challenges in conservation biology. Overall, the study of ant colony personality opens up new opportunities for examining the evolutionary history of animal personalities and the feedback between the underlying mechanisms and ecological consequences of animal personalities.

Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0. © 2021 The Author(s).

Key words: Collective behavior, personality, behavioral syndromes, temperament, interactions, review.

Publisher: The Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics

ISSN: 1997-3500

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