1
$\begingroup$

There are some varieties of ants capable of "agriculture", e.g. dairing ants farming aphids and leaf-cutting ants farming fungus.

How is the knowledge about the techniques involved passed between generations (in the case of dairing aphids I mean e.g. milking the the aphids to get honeydew, and protecting the aphids)? In short, is it more "genetic" (so that lab-cloned ants are capable of it) or is it more part of "culture", i.e. younger ants mimicking the older ones? I'd be mostly interested in answers with references to relevant experimental research.

$\endgroup$
5
  • $\begingroup$ Knowledge and technique are probably the wrong words for what is essentially instinctual behavior. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jul 5 '20 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ knowledge, technique, intuition, etc. are all not well-defined terms, which is why I'd favour references to experimental research. If you have a particular definition in mind of "essentially instinctual", and there are research papers which use that definition, and which indicate that the behaviour of the farming and dairing ants is of this kind, I'd be glad to see some details. All else is an opinion. $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '20 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ If you're interested in opinions here's one: there exist slave-making ants which "teach" ants of other species to work "for them", and perhaps one could imagine that "farming slave-making" ants could exist, in which case farming could hardly be considered purely "instinctive". For another opinion, I consider it more likely that instinct is involved on a higher level, imprinting the ants to e.g. "follow other workers which are successful in bringing in food etc.", whereas the particular strategies of particular species are "learned" by means of such an instinct. $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '20 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ Have you searched? If so what did you find? So people don’t waste time with repeats.. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 5 '20 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't searched outside of wikipedia and links there (for example to the discussion in Origin of Species about slave-making ants). $\endgroup$ Jul 15 '20 at 17:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.