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Science:切割蚁利用它可卷曲的腿辅助切割树叶

摘要 : 切割蚁跟农民一样,它们收集大量的植被物质,然后利用这些收集植被物质给它们培育的真菌施肥。新的研究表明切割蚁的腿是可弯曲的,这样利于它们对树叶进行精准而有效的切割。

 

切割蚁跟农民一样,它们收集大量的植被物质,然后利用这些收集植被物质给它们培育的真菌施肥。新的研究表明切割蚁的腿是可弯曲的,这样利于它们对树叶进行精准而有效的切割。科学家们拍摄了实验室的蚁巢中,切割蚁从收集到切割处理树叶的全部过程。他们把切割蚁这种将树叶转换成真菌肥料的全部过程划分成10个任务过程,其中包括从树叶切割、打孔到滚动运输切割碎片至真菌的菌丝处。这些精巧而微妙的活动正是因为切割蚁退的可弯曲性使之变成可能,该团队今天在英国皇家开放科学学会线上报道了这项研究。切割蚁利用灵活多变的多关节的腿小心翼翼的抓取和处理着这些树叶碎片(如上面的视频所示)。研究者们通过计算得出将1平方米的新鲜树叶切割处理成可供真菌利用的消化碎片,切割蚁需要进行3千米长度的切割,这个长度相当于1亿只切割蚁的体长。该篇文章的作者们陈述,切割树叶的工作是一项困难的工作,切割蚁的这项生命活动所耗费的能量基本上接近它们能量预算的极限。与此相对应的是,科学家们发现切割蚁在进行树叶切割向它们培养的真菌提供养料时更趋向于选择较小的树叶进行切割,而且它们只是将树叶切割成碎片,而不是将树叶磨成叶浆,这样能最大程度地减少它们的工作量。该研究团队表明切割蚁在树叶处理的行为过程中表现出意想不到的生物多样性,这表明切割蚁更像一个技巧高超的手工艺者,而非一台盲目切割的机器。

原文链接:

Leafcutter ants use prehensile legs to help chop up leaves

原文摘要:

Leafcutter ants (Atta cephalotes) are farmers, collecting vast quantities of plant matter to fertilize the underground fungus crop on which they feed. New research shows that their legs are prehensile, allowing them to process leaves precisely and efficiently. Scientists filmed the insects as they collected and processed leaves in a laboratory nest. They identified 10 tasks performed by the ants to turn leaves into fungus food, from cutting and puncturing, to gently rocking finished leaf fragments into the network of fungal filaments. These delicate maneuvers are possible becausethe ants’ legs are prehensile, the team reports online today in the Royal Society Open Science. They use the flexible, multijointed tips to carefully grasp and manipulate fragments (see video, above). The researchers calculated that processing 1 square meter of fresh leaves into digestible fragments for the fungus requires about 3 km of cutting, equivalent to 1 million ant body lengths. Cutting leaves is hard work, and the ants may be living close to the limit of their energy budget, the authors say. Consistent with this, they found that the ants preferred smaller leaves, which they fed to the fungus as fragments, rather than pulverizing them into leaf pulp, as previously described, minimizing their work. The team says the ants displayed an unexpected diversity of leaf-processing behaviors, showing leafcutters as skilled crafters rather than mindless automatons.

来源: Science 浏览次数:1

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