Revista de Etologia
versão impressa ISSN 1517-2805
CUNHA, Walter Hugo de Andrade. On the panic reactions of ants to a crushed conspecific: a contribution to a psychoethology of fear. Rev. etol. [online]. 2004, vol.6, n.2, pp. 133-140. ISSN 1517-2805.
By crushing an ant on a trail of Paratrechina (Nylanderia) fulva Mayr; ants one causes marked changes in the behavior of the remaining ants when they come near the dead conspecific which may be called panic reactions (detour, going back, waving march, jolt and disorientation) and which represent disturbances or a disorganization of the prevailing behavior in the trail (Cunha, 1967). In the first part of the present paper, an attempt is made to show how the form and specific circumstances of each of such reactions may be the result of previous experience of the ants with the situation to be changed. In the second part, using data from a few species of four ant subfamilies (Myrmicinae, Formicinae, Ponerinae and Dorylinae) on the intensity of reaction to a crushed conspecific on the trail, it is shown that intensity of disturbance appears to be correlated not with taxonomic position but with the degree of mutual attraction or interaction at an individual level present in each species. Fear is reinterpreted as a motivacional state characterized by an intensified process of sensory discrimination and by the simultaneous presence of two tendencies: search for the familiar and flight from the unfamiliar.
Palavras-chave : Alarm behavior; Fear; Ants; Paratrechina (Nylanderia) fulva.