Leafcutter Ants, the Fungal Farmers
Biology 342 Fall 2014
The mechanisms of behavior generally look at the physiological aspects of the organism that allow those to function. All most every aspect of leafcutter behavior is dictated by a clear mechanistic determiner. Namely, leafcutter ants have a division of labor that is dictated by polymorphism (Evison et al 2007).
Polymorphism of Leafcutter Ants
The division of labor within most attine leafcutter ants is divided into three primary polymorphic castes.
These morphological differences create a division of labor within the colony that is crucial for nearly all of the behaviors of the ant colony (Evison & Ratnieks 2011). The midias ants will collect the leaves needed for the fungus. They will take the plant matter to the colony where the minimas will clean and feed it to the fungus (Licht et al. 2010).