Allometric scaling of metabolism, growth, and activity in whole colonies of the seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus

James S. Waters, C. Tate Holbrook, Jennifer Fewell, Jon Harrison

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    47 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The negative allometric scaling of metabolic rate with body size is among the most striking patterns in biology. We investigated whether this pattern extends to physically independent eusocial systems by measuring the metabolic rates of whole functioning colonies of the seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. These intraspecific scaling data were compared to the predictions of an additive model developed to estimate collective metabolic rates. Contrary to the prediction of the additive model, colony metabolic rate allometry resembled the pattern commonly observed interspecifically for individual organisms, scaling with colony mass0 75. Among the same-aged colonies, net growth rate varied by up to sevenfold, with larger colonies exhibiting higher net growth efficiency than smaller colonies. Isolated worker groups exhibited isometric metabolic rate scaling, suggesting that the social environment of the colony is critical to regulating individual patterns of work output. Within the social environment, individual worker locomotor velocities exhibited power-law distributions that scaled with colony size so that larger colonies exhibited a greater disparity between active and inactive ants than did smaller colonies. These results demonstrate that behavioral organization within colonies may have a major influence on colony-level metabolism and in generating intraspecific variation in growth trajectories.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)501-510
    Number of pages10
    JournalAmerican Naturalist
    Volume176
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Oct 2010

    Fingerprint

    Pogonomyrmex californicus
    social environment
    ant
    metabolism
    seed
    prediction
    allometry
    seeds
    trajectories
    Formicidae
    body size
    Biological Sciences
    organisms
    harvester ants
    power law distribution
    intraspecific variation

    Keywords

    • Allometry
    • Ants
    • Energetics
    • Metabolic rate
    • Scaling
    • Sociality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

    Cite this

    Allometric scaling of metabolism, growth, and activity in whole colonies of the seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. / Waters, James S.; Holbrook, C. Tate; Fewell, Jennifer; Harrison, Jon.

    In: American Naturalist, Vol. 176, No. 4, 10.2010, p. 501-510.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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