Project Title

Functional Morphology of Ant Cuticle Sculpturing

Academic department under which the project should be listed

Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Clint Penick

Project Type

Event

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Taxonomists have long used the fine patterns and textures on ant cuticle to distinguish one species from another. To describe these patterns, they have invented a lexicon of highly descriptive terms that can challenge even the most ardent student of myrmecology. We created a simplified categorization system to aid taxonomic work and associate clear textural differences with functionality. The system sorts all cuticle textures into six categories: Striate, Reticulate, Punctate, Hirsute, Tuberous, and Smooth. We apply this system to a diverse set of genera within Formicidae and find that identification is consistent and robust. Little is known about the functionality of these textures and here we aggregate all current hypotheses into three broad categories - Microbial, Structural, and Mechanical.

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Functional Morphology of Ant Cuticle Sculpturing

Taxonomists have long used the fine patterns and textures on ant cuticle to distinguish one species from another. To describe these patterns, they have invented a lexicon of highly descriptive terms that can challenge even the most ardent student of myrmecology. We created a simplified categorization system to aid taxonomic work and associate clear textural differences with functionality. The system sorts all cuticle textures into six categories: Striate, Reticulate, Punctate, Hirsute, Tuberous, and Smooth. We apply this system to a diverse set of genera within Formicidae and find that identification is consistent and robust. Little is known about the functionality of these textures and here we aggregate all current hypotheses into three broad categories - Microbial, Structural, and Mechanical.