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Regulation of thermal tolerance in leafcutter ants

Grant number: 18/15664-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2018
Effective date (End): October 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal researcher:André Frazão Helene
Grantee:Cleverson de Sousa Lima
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


In the context of climate changes, it's critical to understand the factors that affect the species' thermal tolerance. Combining behavioral and physiological strategies, different studies show that temperature has complex effects on organisms and how they deal with it. Such strategies seem to depend on factors related to their body condition (which in this project we'll call internal factors) and influence of environmental and experimental elements (which in this project we'll call external factors). However, the interaction of internal factors (hydration status, body size) and external factors (heating rate, heating onset, relative air humidity) and their influence on thermal tolerance are still poorly understood in leaf cutting ants. To better understand these interactions, we will apply an experimental protocol to sequentially measure the maximum voluntary temperature and maximum critical temperature of the species Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Forel, 1908). Then we'll measure these parameters considering the effect of internal and external factors. Our results will provide subsidies on how the integration of stimuli from different sources influences the thermal tolerance of leaf cutting ants. These results will be an important aspect on ant's ecology and climatic vulnerability modeling of thermal constraints.

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