Marwah Saleh Earlham College, Brianna Crawley Earlham College
Faculty Sponsor(s): Chris Smith Earlham CollegeUnlike solitary organisms, ants exist as both individuals and multi-individual societies. Maintaining satisfactory nutritional intake for all individuals, with all their unique needs, can be a daunting task as a result of unequal distribution of labor, as well as variant nutritional requirements for workers and larvae (workers need more carbohydrates content and larvae require more protein). While most prior research has suggested that foragers tend to prefer carbohydrate rich foods, food preferences are not necessarily correlated with a diet that will yield optimal growth. Understanding how specific nutrients, such as carbohydrates and protein, affect colony growth can help us better understand the mechanisms that govern eusociality as well as social life history traits. In this study we manipulated the diets of twelve colonies of the common garden ant, Lasius neoniger, acquired in Richmond, Indiana from October 2016 until the present. Colonies were administered diets with differing ratios of protein to carbohydrates in order to elucidate effects on colony growth and productivity. Our current results indicate that a 1:2 ratio of protein to carbohydrate diet yields the highest growth. At this point, it is not yet clear whether ant preference for a particular protein to carbohydrate ratio correlates with productivity. A strong correlation between diet preference and colony growth would suggest that foragers are highly tuned to the growth needs of the colony.
When & Where
Gallahue Hall 101