How to collect army ants? A chimpanzee perspective

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How to collect army ants? A chimpanzee perspective

Post by Benoit Guenard on Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:46 am

I have to admit, I did not really know where write this note, maybe in methodology? But finally I have chosen the Hot Topics section.

The article has for title: The nature of culture: Technological variation in chimpanzee predation on army ants revisited. And is published this week in the The Journal of Human Evolution, by Schoning et al..


Except the fact that this article is a supplementary example of the use of tools by chimpanzees and its cultural and ecological variations, breaking a little bit more what was define for a long time as the Human exception, this time it is question of army ants hunting. Which of course make it even more attractive for a myrmecologist.
Here is the abstract:

Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) predation on army ants (Dorylus, subgenus Anomma) is an impressive example of skillful use of elementary technology, and it has been suggested to reflect cultural differences among chimpanzee communities. Alternatively, the observed geographic diversity in army-ant-eating may represent local behavioral responses of the chimpanzees to the anti-predator traits of the army ant species present at the different sites. We examined assemblages of available prey species, their behavior and morphology, consumption by chimpanzees, techniques employed, and tool lengths at 14 sites in eastern, central, and western Africa. Where army ants are eaten, tool length and concomitant technique are a function of prey type. Epigaeically foraging species with aggressive workers that inflict painful bites are harvested with longer tools and usually by the ‘‘pull-through’’ technique; species foraging in leaf-litter with less aggressive workers that inflict less painful bites are harvested with short tools and by the ‘‘direct-mouthing’’ technique. However, prey species characteristics do not explain several differences in army-ant-eating between Bossou (Guinea) and Tai; (Ivory Coast), where the same suite of prey species is available and is consumed. Moreover, the absence of army-ant-eating at five sites cannot be explained by the identity of available prey species, as all the species found at these sites are eaten elsewhere. We conclude that some of the observed variation in the predator-prey relationship of chimpanzees and army ants reflects environmental influences driven by the prey, while other variation is not linked to prey characteristics and may be solely sociocultural.


And you what is your technique to collect army ants? With tools? By hand? Or by direct-mouthing?
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Benoit Guenard
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