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Psyche
Volume 2012, Article ID 752815, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/752815
Research Article

The Biology and Natural History of Aphaenogaster rudis

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut 75 North Eagleville Road, U-43, Storrs, CT 06269-3043, USA
2Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Received 16 October 2011; Accepted 11 November 2011

Academic Editor: Diana E. Wheeler

Copyright © 2012 David Lubertazzi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Workers from the genus Aphaenogaster are among the most abundant ants in the hardwood forests of eastern North America. The biology of these so-called rudis-group ant species, including details about their sociometry, productivity, natural history, and behavior, are synthesized here using published and newly collected data. The latter was collected, in part, using an artificial field nest, and its construction and use are explained. Ants of the rudis group occur in high densities in forest habitats (0.5–1.3 nests m2), have moderate sized colonies (population means from 266 to 613 workers per nest), and are keystone seed dispersers. Many aspects of their life history and behavior follow an annual cycle that tracks seasonal changes. These include foraging, reproduction, the production of new workers and nest migrations. This synthesis highlights what is known about these ants and reveals gaps in our knowledge that require further study.