What is it about?

Ants form complex societies with intricate communication channels. They can be overheard by other insects and larger enemies around them and their colonies. Predators and and parasites rely on understanding their prey to succeed in their lives. This review provides a number of examples and draws on how natural enemies use ants' communication channels to exploit them. This is called "ecological eavesdropping" and is a new field of semiotics research.

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Why is it important?

Humans are a long way from understanding animal communication. Dogs barking, birds chirping, ants stridulating. Other animals, however, often seem to pay keen attention while others communicate: they seek their cues. Understanding animal communication webs is as essential as drawing food webs in interpreting nature. Eavesdropping by enemies is a new field of study in Animal Ecology.


It was a great pleasure and adventure preparing this review with my coauthors, who come from different backgrounds. If given the chance, I'd like to expand this topic into biosemiotics, and possibly add some reproducible experimental data on testing eavesdropping hypotheses with ants!

Dr Eduardo G P Fox

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Interspecific Eavesdropping on Ant Chemical Communication, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, March 2020, Frontiers,
DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2020.00024.
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