The data confirmed your expectations? That’s great, you were right from the beginning – or where you tricked by what is called confirmation bias – you only saw what you wanted to see? Although the effect is typically strongest with emotionally charged subjects (think gun control), it can be a serious problem in scientific experiments
The Acromyrmex queens made it to Austria, and some more newspapers printed articles: Failed young queens must labour as lowly commoners, New Scientist 19.9.2012, issue 2883 p. 14 Neuanfang für Ameisen, Welt am Sonntag, 23.9.2012 (German) Ab in die Produktion, Junge Welt vom 27.9.2012, page 15 (German) Königinnen können notgedrungen zu Kriegerinnen werden, Der Standard.at,
There are still some people picking up our story on wingless Acromyrmex queens. First of all, Mischa Dijkstra wrote a nice little highlight in his blog. Then an article has been printed on the Science pages of the newspaper Darmstädter Echo (German). And further there is a bunch of articles in all kinds of languages,
Our article on wingless virgin queens that defend their colonies received quite some attention by the media, in particular in Germany. Among the english language websites that covered the story were The New Scientist and Science Daily: The New Scientist: Spinster queens become commoners Science Daily:Princesses Become Warriors: Young Queens of Leafcutter Ants Change Roles
I have a new paper published on nest-defence in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants. We found that young virgin queens switch to worker behaviour once they lose the prospect of founding their own colony. Normally, virgin queens avoid taking risks because they are supposed to partake in a mating flight and found a new “daughter” colony afterwards.
Large societies of ants and humans have standing armies with professional soldiers, but smaller societies usually rely on conscription when they are threatened. Leaf-cutting ant societies of intermediate size have evolved the peculiar practice of turning daughter queens that failed to mate and disperse into life time nest-defenders, reminiscent of mythical female warriors whose normal
My next conference will be in Lüneburg: It’s the 42nd “Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland”, from 10 to 14 September 2012. Looking forward to seeing you there! I will present work on myrmecophilous cockroaches that live in leaf-cutter ant colonie, in a Chemical Ecology symposium on Thursday.
This press release is also available in Danish (på Dansk). In social insect colonies, workers generally cooperate within extended families consisting of full- and half-sisters. It has been suggested that they do not behave nepotistically, i.e. prefer to cooperate with full-sisters only, because they are not able to distinguish between half- and full sisters Actually,