Ant circadian activity associated with brood care type

Haruna Fujioka, Masato S. Abe, Taro Fuchikawa, Kazuki Tsuji, Masakazu Shimada, Yasukazu Okada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


In group-living animals, social interactions influence various traits including circadian activity. Maternal care, in particular, can have a strong effect on the circadian activity of parents or nurses across taxa. In social insects, nestmates are known to have diverse activity rhythms; however, what kind of social environment is crucial in shaping an individual's rhythm is largely unknown. Here, we show that the focal brood types being taken care of (i.e. egg, larva and pupa) have significant effects on individual activity/rest rhythm, using the monomorphic ant Diacamma (putative species indicum). When isolated from a colony, nurses exhibited a clear circadian rhythm. However, when paired with eggs or larvae, they exhibited around-the-clock activity with no apparent rhythm. In contrast, a clear activity rhythm emerged when nurses were paired with a pupa, requiring little care. Such brood-type-specific changes in circadian activity are considered to arise from the difference in caretaking demands. Our finding may contribute to the understanding of the organization of a colony in the context of behavioural variability under different microenvironments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20160743
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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