Use of a sound-based vibratome by leaf-cutting ants

Jürgen Tautz, Flavio Roces, Berthold Hoelldobler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Leaf-cutting ants harvest fresh vegetation that they then use as food for symbiotic fungi. When cutting leaf fragments, the ants produce high-frequency vibrations with a specialized organ located on the gaster. This stridulation behavior is synchronized with movements of the mandible, generating complex vibrations of the mandibles. The high vibrational acceleration of the mandible (up to three times the gravitational force at peak acceleration at about 1000 hertz) appears to stiffen the material to be cut. An identical effect is achieved when soft material is sectioned with a vibratome. This hypothesis is supported by experiments simulating the cutting process with vibrating isolated mandibles: When tender leaves were cut, the vibration of the mandible reduced force fluctuations and thus permitted a smoother cut to be made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-87
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume267
Issue number5195
StatePublished - Jan 6 1995
Externally publishedYes

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Ants
Mandible
Vibration
Fungi
Food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Use of a sound-based vibratome by leaf-cutting ants. / Tautz, Jürgen; Roces, Flavio; Hoelldobler, Berthold.

In: Science, Vol. 267, No. 5195, 06.01.1995, p. 84-87.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tautz, J, Roces, F & Hoelldobler, B 1995, 'Use of a sound-based vibratome by leaf-cutting ants', Science, vol. 267, no. 5195, pp. 84-87.
Tautz J, Roces F, Hoelldobler B. Use of a sound-based vibratome by leaf-cutting ants. Science. 1995 Jan 6;267(5195):84-87.
Tautz, Jürgen ; Roces, Flavio ; Hoelldobler, Berthold. / Use of a sound-based vibratome by leaf-cutting ants. In: Science. 1995 ; Vol. 267, No. 5195. pp. 84-87.
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