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Ants of the the subfamily Ecitoninae – the army ants – form large, nomadic colonies which roam the soils of the Neotropics. The most characteristic trait of army ants is the ability to conduct highly organized mass raids (Gotwald 1982) during which they remove large amounts of booty. For the army ant Eciton buchelli it has been estimated that a single colony removes up to 40g of dry animal matter (Franks 1982) and Eciton hamatum harvests 90.000 insects during one day (Rettenmeyer et al. 1983). The raids of army ants are presumed to prevent the establishment of climax communities and thus to enhance arthropod diversity (Gotwald 1995). It is therefore not surprising that army ants are considered keystone predators in the Neotropics (Franks 1982, Franks 1980).

Eciton burchellii (Westwood 1842)

on Hymenoptera Name Server

The army ant Eciton burchellii is a nomadic predator in the rain forests of Central and South America. Detailed work has documented many aspects of this species' ecology, behaviour and life history. Thus E. buchellii ranks among the most intensely investigated of all ant species.
Borgmeier (1955) described many, still valid, subspecies of E. burchellii. So far, I have made no attempt to indentify the subspecies.

Eciton burchellii (major) - head view Eciton burchellii (major) - lateral view
major worker: head view
major worker: lateral view
Eciton burchellii (minor) - head view Eciton burchellii (minor) - lateral view
minor worker: head view
minor worker: lateral view

Offline References for Eciton

Borgmeier, T. (1955): Die Wanderameisen der neotropischen Region. Studia Entomologica 3:1-720.
Franks, N. R. (1980): The evolutionary ecology of the army ant Eciton buchelli on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. University of Leeds, Leeds.
Franks, N. R. (1982): Ecology and population regulation in the army ant Eciton buchelli, pp. 389-395 In E. G. Leigh, A. S. Rand, and D. M. Windsor [eds.], The ecology of a tropical forest: seasonal rythms and long-term changes. Smithonian Institution Press, Washington DC.
Gotwald, W. H. 1982. Army ants, pp. 157-254 In H. R. Hermann [ed.], Social Insects. Academic Press, New York.
Gotwald, W. H. 1995. Army ants: the biology of social predation. Cornell Unvierstiy Press, Ithaca, NY.
Rettenmeyer, C. W., R. Chadab-Crepet, M. G. Naumann, and L. Morales. 1983. Comparative foraging by Neotropical army ants, pp. 59-73 In P. Jaisson [ed.], Social insects in the tropics. Université Paris-Nord, Paris.
Watkins, J. F., II. (1976): The identification and distribution of New World army ants (Dorylinae: Formicidae). Baylor University Press, Waco, Texas.

Date of this version: 3/27/2007
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
page author: Jochen H. Bihn
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