No effect of Zn-pollution on the energy content in the black garden ant
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Social insects may display a response to environmental pollution at the colony level. The key trait of an ant colony is to share energy between castes in order to maintain the existing adult population and to feed the brood. In the present study we calorimetrically measured the energy content per body mass (J/mg) of adults and pupae of workers, males and females of the black garden ant Lasius niger. The ants were sampled from 37 wild colonies originating from 19 sites located along the metal pollution gradient established in a post-mining area in Poland. The cost of metal detoxification seen as a possible reduction in energy content with increasing pollution was found neither for pupae nor adults. However, a considerable part of variance in energy content is explained by belonging to the same colony. These findings stress the importance of colony-specific factors and/or the interaction of these factors with specific site in shaping the response of ants to metal-pollution stress. Colony-related factors may constrain possible selfish decisions of workers over energy allocation in workers and sexual castes.
KeywordsAnts Lasius niger Colony Castes Caloric value Pollution gradient Detoxification costs Queen-worker conflict
This study was supported by The National Science Centre (Narodowe Centrum Nauki, NCN), based on decision DEC-2011/01/D/NZ8/00167. We thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the previous versions of the manuscript. We thank also dr Andrzej Kędziorski and Ewa Świerczek MSc for performing the calorimetric analyses and Anna Stefanowicz, Magdalena Witek, Marcin Woch, Sławomir Mitrus for critical reading of the earlier version of the manuscript. Katarzyna Wardzała, Patrycja Żywiec and Beata Ślusarczyk assisted in the fieldwork.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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