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How do leafcutter ants cut leaves off of trees? #TeamTrees

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Channel: Ant Lab
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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Special thanks to Leaf House Scientific ( for supplying the ants and to Dr. Fred Larabee ( for the microCT images of Atta internal head musculature.

Here's a reading list for more info on leafcutters and references for some of the info in this video

A good place to start reading about leafcutter ant biology is:
Hlldobler & Wilson (2010) The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct

In a day, a mature leaf cutter ant nest can cut and gather 100,000s of leaf fragments
Wirth et al. (2003) Herbivory of Leaf-Cutting Ants: A Case Study on Atta colombica in the Tropical Rainforest of Panama

Evolutionary transition dates for fungus farming and leaf-cutting:
Schultz & Brady (2008) Major evolutionary transitions in ant agriculture PNAS

Vibratory signals during leaf cutting:
Roces & Hlldobler (1996) Use of stridulation in foraging leaf-cutting ants: mechanical support during cutting or short-range recruitment signal? Behav Ecol & SocioBiol

Vibratory signals during digging and sound recording clip:
Pielstrm & Roces (2012) Vibrational communication in the spatial organization of collective digging in the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri Anim Behav

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