Ant queens have very unique scents
It had been thought that ants, wasps and other “social” insects used a common class of chemical compounds to distinguish queens from workers and other members of their colonies or hives. Now research finds there is significant variation in these chemical signals, even between closely related species.
The work was done by scientists at N.C. State University, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, the University of California at Riverside and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They collected the colonies of three closely related trap-jaw ant species found in the Southeast and took samples of the chemicals found on the exoskeleton of each colony’s queen and workers. A gas chromatograph analyzed each ant’s chemical signature – and found that the queens of each trap-jaw species used very different chemicals to differentiate themselves from workers.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
These pheromones – scent chemicals – were outside of the class of compounds thought to be common to all social- insect queens... and not similar to each other. “Each species uses its own unique blend of chemicals. And two of these chemicals are – as far as we can tell – completely new to science,” said Adrian Smith, lead author of a paper on the work published this month in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Smith is an assistant research professor of biological sciences at N.C State and head of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Evolutionary Biology & Behavior Research Lab.
Phantom cell phone signals? Relax
If you think you hear your cell phone ringing or feel it vibrating to signal an incoming call or message, but there actually is none, you may have “ringxiety" and be psychologically primed to detect such signals. Insecurity in interpersonal relationships, manifested as attachment anxiety, increases the likelihood of having phantom cell phone experiences, according to a new study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
Ice sheet is releasing ‘Mississippi River’ of phosphorus
Phosphorus is a key nutrient that could, if it reaches the open ocean, enrich waters of the Arctic Ocean, potentially stimulating growth of the marine food chain.
Phosphorus feeds plankton at the base of the ocean food web. Glacial meltwater has long been known to contain phosphorus, but new research by Britain’s University of Bristol shows that as the Greenland ice sheet melts, it could be releasing far more of the nutrient than previously thought.
The team studied two Greenland glaciers and used that data to extrapolate how much phosphorus was likely being released from the island’s entire ice sheet. They determined the annual amount of phosphorus released is at least equal to that of some of the world's largest rivers, such as the Mississippi and the Amazon.
That amount could increase as the climate warms and more ice melts. The report on their findings has been accepted for publication in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.