Exploring nest structures of acorn dwelling ants with X-ray microtomography and surface-based three-dimensional visibility graph analysis
Published on Aug 19, 2018in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 5.67
· DOI :10.1098/rstb.2017.0237
The physical spaces within which organisms live affect their biology and in many cases can be considered part of their extended phenotype. The nests of social insect societies have a fundamental impact on their ability to function as complex superorganisms. Ants in many species excavate elaborate subterranean nests, but others inhabit relatively small pre-formed cavities within rock crevices and hollow seeds. Temnothorax ants, which often nest within acorns, have become a model system for studying collective decision making. While these ants have demonstrated remarkable degrees of rationality and consistent precision with regard to their nest choices, never before has the fine scale internal architecture and spatial organization of their nests been investigated. We used X-ray microtomography to record high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) scans of Temnothorax colonies within their acorns. These data were then quantified using image segmentation and surface-based 3D visibility graph analysis, a new comput...