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Turrets ventilate nest: leaf-cutting ant


Turrets of leaf-cutting ant / ©Alex Wild/.. / LicenseCopyright - All Rights Reserved

Nests of leaf-cutting ants are self-ventilation thanks to two different types of turrets that take advantage of wind.

"To understand the significance of elaborate nest architecture for the control of nest climate, we investigated the mechanisms governing nest ventilation in a large field nest of Atta vollenweideri. Surface wind, drawing air from the central tunnels of the nest mound, was observed to be the main driving force for nest ventilation during summer. This mechanism of wind-induced ventilation has so far not been described for social insect colonies. Thermal convection, another possible force driving ventilation, contributed very little. According to their predominant airflow direction, two functionally distinct tunnel groups were identified: outflow tunnels in the upper, central region, and inflow tunnels in the lower, peripheral region of the nest mound. The function of the tunnels was independent of wind direction. Outflow of air through the central tunnels was followed by a delayed inflow through the peripheral tunnels. Leaf-cutting ants design the tunnel openings on the top of the nest with turrets which may reinforce wind-induced nest ventilation." (Kleineidam et al. 2001:301)
About the inspiring organism
Med_alexwildantmoundphoto_copyrighted Atta vollenweideri
Atta vollenweideri Forel, 1893

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Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Wind-driven airflow could be enhanced by structurally induced pressure differentials to improve ventilation within structure.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Construction

Laboratorio de Icnología
Marcela I. Cosarinsky
Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia
Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology
Flavio Roces
University of Wurzburg
Kleineidam C; Ernst R; Roces F. 2001. Wind-induced ventilation of the giant nests of the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri. Naturwissenschaften. 88: 301-305.
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Kleineidam C; Roces F. 2000. Carbon dioxide concentrations and nest ventilation in nests of the leafcutting ant Atta vollenweideri. Insectes Sociaux. 47: 241-248.
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Cosarinsky MI; Roces F. 2011. The construction of turrets for nest ventilation in the grass-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri. Journal of Insect Behavior. 24(6):
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Cosarinsky M; Roces F. 2007. Neighbor leaf-cutting ants and mound-building termites: comparative nest micromorphology. Geoderma. 141: 224-234.
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