Obligate army-ant-following birds
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Obligate army-ant-following birds a study of ecology, spatial movement patterns, and behavior in Amazonian Peru by Susan K. Willson

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Published by American Ornithologists" Union in Washington, D.C .
Written in English


  • Birds -- Peru,
  • Rain forest ecology -- Amazon River Valley,
  • Ants -- Behavior -- Amazon River Valley

Book details:

Edition Notes

Statementby Susan K. Willson
SeriesOrnithological monographs -- no. 55
The Physical Object
Pagination67 p. :
Number of Pages67
ID Numbers
Open LibraryOL15469696M
ISBN 100943610605
LC Control Number2004105806

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Five species of obligate ant-following birds—Phlegopsis nigromaculata, Myrmeciza fortis, Rhegmatorhina melanosticta, Gymnopithys salvini (Thamnophilidae), and Dendrocincla merula (Dendrocolaptidae)—and two species of army ants (Eciton burchelli and Labidus praedator) were studied in Amazonian Peru over five years. Obligate Army-Ant-Following Birds: A Study of Ecology, Spatial Movement Patterns, and Behavior in Amazonian Peru. It has been suggested that the abundance of army ant colonies diminishes with increasing elevation, contributing to the absence of obligate army ant-following bird species in montane forests.   More than species of tropical birds track army ants to feed on arthropods that flee from the ants. Some species are obligate ant-followers that obtain most of their food at ant swarms, but the mechanism used to track ant colonies remains poorly understood. Ant colonies are nomadic and do not raid every day. It has been hypothesized that (1) by keeping track of three ant colonies daily.

Five species of obligate ant-following birds—Phlegopsis nigromaculata, Myrmeciza fortis, Rhegmatorhina melanosticta, Gymnopithys salvini (Thamnophilidae), and Dendrocincla merula. Henry S. Pollock, First Observation of a Disturbance Foraging Association between Obligate Ant-following Birds and a Tamandua Anteater in Central Panama, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, /, , 4, (), (). The army-ant–following birds of the Neotropics are an appropriate system in which to explore the dynamics of interspecific information use. These birds form mixed-species aggregations around army ant swarms to eat arthropods that the army ants flush from the ground (Willis and Oniki ).   One of the key behavioral features of obligate ant following birds is their lack of territoriality when feeding (Willis, , Willis, , Brumfield et al., ). Mated pairs of some army ant following birds maintain exclusive territories for roosting or nesting, but not feeding (Willson, , Chaves, ). Some birds follow raids through.

The legs are large and strong, particularly in species that are obligate ant-followers. These species are well adapted to gripping vertical stems and saplings, which are more common than horizontal branches in the undergrowth, and thus the ability to grip them is an advantage for birds following swarms of army ants. The claws of these antbirds are longer than those of species that do not follow ants, and the .   The army-ant-following specialization in birds can be classified more specifically as a dependence on catching prey that has been flushed by another organism (Willson, ). Army-ant-following woodcreepers (Dendrocolaptinae), for example, are known to also follow peccary (Tayassuidae) herds through the forest (Willis, ). The peccaries perform the same function for the birds as army . Analyses of the birds' stomach contents reveal a considerable number of army ants, but this may simply be by-catch--many of the insects eaten by the birds are covered with army ants. People are also curious whether species of army-ant-following birds come in different levels . dominant bird species were following ant swarms in the Andean highlands of Colombia, no other birds were seen. Therefore, obligate ant followers tend to be dominant over occasional ant followers. In the Neotropical Region, army-ant-following birds have been studied extensively in .