The origin and significance of diversity Essay


Ants Formica are arguably the most successful beings soon on Earth. They evolved from a WASP like common ascendant about 150 million old ages ago ( 2006 Chuck Lydeard ) 1. Due to their long ecological dominancy amongst insect and short life span they have undergone a high rate of adaptative radiation. Leading to a moderately big sum of species and inter- species diverseness. There are at least 12000 different species of Formicidae ( 2008 Edward O. Wilson ) 2 which have colonised about every land mass on the planet ( Alice S. Jones 2006 ) 3

This alone dominancy and prevalence agencies that Ants soon account for an uncomparable 15 to 20 % ( 2000 Ted R. Schultz ) 4. 3 of the world’s tellurian carnal biomass. Formica exhibit eusociality. they have complex stiff societal functions and interactions. They form settlements changing signifier a few hundred to super settlements with one million millions of persons. Ant’s prevalence is frequently over looked due to their size and nature. The clip when we most notice their huge Numberss is when it starts impacting us ; but to set it in position there are around 1. 7billion emmets for every individual in Scotland ( 2006 Edward O. Wilson ) 5. 6.

History of OriginThe Origin of the Ant stems back even further than we originally thought. A new D. N. A. survey which included research workers from Harvard University states that they evolved about 140 to 168 million old ages ago in the Jurassic or Cretaceous period1. This is important when we analyze how Ants became so successful and diverse. They evolved from the same common ascendant household as WASP called Vespoidea ( 1999 Denis J. Brothers ) 7 the similarity is clear in the household velvet emmet ( Mutillidae. ) [ See figure 1 ] which is really a WASP but exhibits ant like qualities. They originally evolved in a rain forest type clime life preponderantly amongst big herbivores. Indeed this is where we see the greatest figure of Formica and fluctuation in species at present3. 4. For a long clip Ants were scarce doing up merely around 1 per centum of the insect population ( 2000 David Grimaldi & A ; and Donat Agosti ) 8. However around 100 million old ages ago with the visual aspect of blooming workss the r-selection species experienced a high rate of evolutionary radiation.

As a consequence of this period of adaptative radiation. emmets ecological dominancy increased: 20-40 % of insects found in fossil sedimentations from the center of the Tertiary period are ants8. Blooming workss were the key to the emmets increased population ; they created a much wider scope of niches and therefore reduced competition amongst insects. which lead to an addition in insects that emmets could use as a nutrient beginning ( 2006 Moreau CS. ) 9 Over clip emmets exhibited complex symbiotic relationships. I noted a good illustration of this in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens ( H ) . The Acacia sphaerocephala [ See figure 2 ] is tree native to Central and South America it exhibits a symbiotic relationship with an ant species Pseudo myrmex sphaerocephala.

Its irritants are hollow and perfect for the emmets to populate in protecting them from marauders which could interrupt their settlements if on the land. In bend this mutualistic relationship benefits the tree as the emmets guard it from other foliage eating insects. The eusociality societal construction exhibited by Formica is important to its success. Natural cistrons inherited from its common ascendant Vespoidea give rise to its societal settlement construction. This is besides still seen in most WASP which evolved from the same hereditary household.

Diversity within Formica-QueensFormica show a particular. extremely organized. affectional societal settlement construction. Diversity within species of Ant is based on the demands of the settlement. The settlement is even looked at as an being in itself ( a “Super Organism” ) for the intent of some field work. Persons have specific development tracts which lead to specific functions such as. Soldiers. Workers. Drones. Queens. Foragers and nutrient shops ( repletes ) . The development into these different categories is determined largely by environmental factors such as nutrition and endocrines. Yet in a few surveies familial fluctuation has been found between castes. These familial alterations are little a alteration in one cistron which can. for case. make up one’s mind whether a settlement has one or multiple Queenss. However in most instances all emmets start with the same cistrons with the exclusion of males. Ants by and large have 4 development phases. egg. larva. pupa and grownup ( 2002 Myrm ) 10.

The larvae ( see figure 3 ) are merely capable of some minor motion. such as flexing their caput toward a nutrient beginning. It is in the larval phase where differing the degree of attention and nourishment leads to different development tracts. When resources are low most larvae will develop into unfertile female workers. Merely if the developed settlement has an abundant nutrient supply will worker emmets map selected larvae utilizing pheromones. These so receive better nutriment than others which triggers select cistrons to trip ( 1978 Edward O. Wilson. ) 11 These larvae develop into. usually winged. sexually mature female emmets ( See figure 4 ) which leave to happen a male ( Drone ) and get down a new settlement. In some settlements for whatever ground there is no queen ; in this instance a female worker ( all emmets apart from drones are female ) becomes fertile and lays fertile eggs. The Queens chief function is to let cistron flow in the cistron pool. She mates with one or more males from other settlements before get downing her ain. This is the lone sexual interaction between emmets from different settlements. This of import function exhibits the significance of fluctuation within a species.

Diversity within Formica-DronesWorkers by and large can non copulate yet because of the “haplodiploid sex-determination system” in most species they have the ability to put unfertilized eggs that become to the full fertile haploid males. This system means that offspring created from the combination of a sperm and an egg develop as a female ( Worker or Queen ) and an unfertilised egg develops as a male. This consequences in males holding half the figure of chromosomes compared to females ( males are monoploid ) .

This system means that a drone ( See figure 5 ) has no male parent and can non hold boies nevertheless he has a gramps and is able to hold grandsons. The Jack Jumper Ant Myrmecia pilosula’s ( See figure 6 ) genome is enclosed on a individual brace of chromosomes as males are monoploid they merely have 1 chromosome. the lowest sum identified for any animate being. ( 1986 Michael W. J. Crosland & A ; Ross H. Crozier ) 12 Interestingly Myrmecia pilosula have a deadly toxicant and do more deceases in Tasmania than spiders. serpents. WASP. and sharks combined. ( 2008 Killer Ants T. V. ) 13 The lone intent of drones is to copulate with a queen so she can get down a new settlement when this is complete he dies.

Diversity within Formica-WorkersWorkers carry out every other function in ant society. Depending on their age and a figure of environmental conditions. including the province of the settlement. workers can be soldiers. nurses. husbandmans. repletes and more. depending on the species. Ants are the lone systematic group to germinate into specific eusocialit functions with age. This creates a really clear and important diverseness within species. Soldiers are frequently older workers which develop powerful lower jaws. In contrast to workers soldiers are a batch larger ; in the species Pheidologeton diversus the dry mass of a soldier can be 500 times that of a worker. The difference is most prevailing in the ground forces ant genus Dorylus ( See figure 7. ) Due to seasonal nutrient deficits they leave their impermanent emmet hill and March in columns of up to 50 million persons.

Columns are ordered with workers being flanked and protected by the larger soldier emmets ( 1991Bert Holldobler ) 14. The soldiers create a defensive traveling wall leting the workers to safely and fleetly move through the corridor ( at around 20 metres an hour. ) A clear illustration of the diverseness within a species is found in the genus Myrmecocystus. It is literally a life nutrient shop. workers feed another worker until its venters crestless waves and it gets excessively big to acquire out of the chamber it is in. They are termed repletes ( See figure 8 ) and are used by the settlement to last in times of decreased resources such as ; nutrient. H2O and foods ( 1993 Randy C. Morgan ) 15.

Diverseness between different species of FormicaFormica’s ecological laterality has driven diverseness between species to cut down competition. To let successful resource breakdown and acquisition of new resources there are huge differences in the physical abilities of different species. A resent illustration of this is the survey of the species Odontomachus bauri ( Trap Jaw Ant ) by Andrew Suarez ( an ecologist and bugologist at the University of Illinois ) in late 2006. Through the usage of high velocity cameras ( about 10. 000 times faster than those used to movie films ) the velocity of the ant jaws shutting was able to be measured. It is. by a clear border. the fastest ego perpetuated minute in the carnal land with velocities transcending 144 stat mis per hr. Even more interesting is the power involved in this motion “the jaws accelerate at 100. 000 times the force of gravitation. ” This consequences in the motion being completed really rapidly. the motion could be repeated about 2300 times in the clip it takes you to wink: exercising a force up to 500 times the ant’s organic structure mass ( 2006 Andrew Suarez ) 16.

This diverseness gives the emmet a competitory advantage over other species. They use this ability to kill pray. onslaught marauders and to fly from marauders. As when the jaws near against the marauder or land the ant gets propelled off. An illustration of really specific diverseness is that of foliage cutter emmets Myrmicinae. They farm specific Fungi as nutrient beginnings in their settlements. Gathering specific foliages to feed the Fungi and transporting antimicrobic bacteriums to halt infection or competition for their specific Fungi. However a more alone and resent find in Formica diverseness is Polyrhachis sokolova ( See figure 9 ) discovered in Australia in 2006 in Rhizophora mangle swamps it is the lone emmet found to swim and nest under H2O. They survive in air pockets and by swimming to the surface to breath ( 2006 Dr Simon Robson ) 17. Not much more is known about them and research is ongoing. They clearly demonstrate the degree of diverseness and its significance in avoiding and cut downing competition between ant species.


To reason Formica are extremely diverse both within and between species. They exhibit really specific functions within their settlements so much so that the entre settlement can be viewed as a individual being. They have been present on Earth for a comparably long clip. During this clip they have diversified amongst species making many complex and delicate symbiotic relationships with other beings. However the at hand menace of clime alteration coupled with deforestation and loss of home ground could endanger ant species. With a organic structure I work with- the IPCC ( international panel on clime alteration ) predicting that “Climate alteration entirely is expected to coerce a farther 15 % – 37 % of species to the threshold of extinction within the following 50 old ages. ” ( 2006 IPCC. ) 18 There may be a serious impact on the biodiversity of emmets due to their many obligate host home grounds and specific dependence on other beings.


1 hypertext transfer protocol: //news. bio-medicine. org/biology-news-3/Ancient-ants-arose-140-168-million-years-ago-7286-1/2 hypertext transfer protocol: //www. nytimes. com/2008/07/15/science/15wils. html3 hypertext transfer protocol: //ngm. nationalgeographic. com/2007/08/ants/did-you-know-learn4 hypertext transfer protocol: //www. pnas. org/content/97/26/140285 hypertext transfer protocol: //everything2. com/index. pl? node_id=17930206 hypertext transfer protocol: //www. gro-scotland. gov. uk/press/2007-news/scotlands-mid-year-population-estimates. html7 “Phylogeny and development of WASP. emmets and bees” 233- 249.

8 hypertext transfer protocol: //www. pnas. org/content/97/25/136789 hypertext transfer protocol: //www. ncbi. nlm. National Institutes of Health. gov/pubmed/1660119010 hypertext transfer protocol: //www. antnest. co. uk/cycle. html11 “Caste and ecology in the societal