Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]



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Publication Date

March 2003


Atta cephalotes or leaf-cutting ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) exhibit strong polymorphism over the life span of a single colony. This polymorphism effects foraging efficiency and is linked to overall social complexity. In this study, I quantified the degree of variance in head size and femur length in six colonies, as well as presence of a soldier class, and compared these results to the relative size of each nest as determined by a survey of foraging intensity. It was found that variance in the head and femurs and the presence of soldiers was significant different between small and large colonies, and this was related to increasing colony size.


Atta cephalotes o zompopas (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) exhiben el polimorfismo fuerte sobre la vida de una colonia. El polimorfismo afecta la eficiencia y complejidad social general. Yo cuantifiqué el grado de variación en el tamaño de cabeza y la longitud de fémur en seis colonias. Vi para la presencia de una clase de soldado, y comparé los resultados al tamaño relativo de cada nido como determinado por una inspección de la intensidad de trabajo. Se encontró que variación en la cabeza y fémures y en la presencia de soldados eran significativos diferentes entre colonias pequeñas y grandes, y fue estado relacionado con el tamaño creciente de la colonia.


13 pages

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





Colony size and its effect on forager polymorphism in Atta cephalotes (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), March 2003



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