3 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Insects evolved various modifications to their mouthparts, allowing for a broad exploration of feeding modes. In ants, workers perform non-reproductive tasks like excavation, food processing, and juvenile care, relying heavily on their mandibles. Given the importance of biting for ant workers and the significant mandible morphological diversity across species, it is essential to understand how mandible shape influences its mechanical responses to bite loading. We employed Finite Element Analysis to simulate biting scenarios on mandible volumetric models from 25 ant species classified in different feeding habits. We hypothesize that mandibles of predatory ants, especially trap-jaw ants, would perform better than mandibles of omnivorous species due to their necessity to subdue living prey. We defined simulations to allow only variation in mandible morphology between specimens. Our results demonstrated interspecific differences in mandible mechanical responses to biting loading. However, we found no evident differences in biting performance between the predatory and the remaining ants, and trap-jaw mandibles did not show lower stress levels than other mandibles under bite loading. These results suggest that ant feeding habit is not a robust predictor of mandible biting performance, a possible consequence of mandibles being employed as versatile tools to perform several tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16833
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
Early online date6 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Ants/physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Mandible/anatomy & histology

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