Making do with less: Miniaturisation of sensory systems (#624)
Ants occupy a range of ecological niches
and as a result come in a stunning variety of shapes and sizes. Despite this
variation, sympatric species face similar challenges in having to perform a
range of tasks such as communicating with nest-mates, foraging for food
and navigating through the environment.
It has been shown that smaller animals must often economise on sensory systems and neural processing centres because of both a limit to the minimum size attainable of sensory organs and because of the high costs associated with neural tissues. As a result smaller animals must perform tasks with a limited amount of information about their surroundings compared to their larger counterparts.
Here, we compare the antennal sensory array of different ant species of varying body-size. By studying both the external anatomy of chemoreceptive sensilla and the underlying neuroanatomy we hope to elucidate what differences might exist in terms of the information available to ants of different body-size.