Comparative analysis of the interspecific aggressive behaviour of some British ants, with particular reference to Myrmica spp. and Lasius flavus (F)
The interspecific aggressive behaviour of some British ants of the genera Myrmica. and Lasius was investigated. Since ants exhibit great variability in their behaviour the main part of the study was concerned with a comparative, numerical analysis of interactions between individuals in controlled laboratory conditions. Interactions were investigated between individuals and between entire colonies of M. scabrinodis and L. flavus under various experimental conditions. In this way it was possible to examine a number of factors that were believed to influence aggression such as age, hunger, number of combatants, place of interaction, relative colony size, etc. The experiments have shown how the behaviour of M. scabrinodis is adapted to living near to hostile L. flavus colonies, and the ecological relationship between the two species in terms of predation and competition in their common, naturally - occurring 'compound nests is discussed. The behaviour of individuals of M. scabrinodis was examined towards five different ant species that occur in the same habitat. A numerical analysis of the interactions has shown that the intensity of fighting is usually greater in intra- rather than intergeneric encounters. Intraspecific combats are of long duration but, however, lack severity. The individual behaviour patterns of six closely - related species' of the genus Myrmica were investigated in interactions with the same opponent species, L. flavus. The behavioural relationship of the species to one another was found to be similar to the taxonomic one. However, an exception to this general pattern stressed the need to consider the ecological position of the species in such comparisons. Finally, the study has shown that several types of responses shown by ants in interspecific interactions must be considered and more than one measurement of these responses may be necessary to gain a true assessment of the aggression present.