Novelty responses of harvesting ants: facts, hypotheses and open questions
The paper discusses selected experimental data on behavioural patterns shown by the harvesting ants in response to novel objects, and on behavioural modifications taking place during the process of their familiarization with novel seeds and other objects. Stress is laid on the role of individual experience, dietary history of the colony and innate factors in determining the responses of these ants to seeds. Familiarization with novel objects is also discussed in terms of learning, transient memory, behavioural flexibility, and switching from excited high-tempo behaviour triggered by novel objects to calm low-tempo behaviour observed in familiar situations. Some hypotheses concerning the evolution of behavioural patterns employed by the ants when seizing and transporting various food and nonfood items are also discussed.
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