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The survival of an animal group can depend on its size and stability over time. To avoid losses in size, ant colonies must offset worker mortality with new worker production by the end of each annual cycle. This talk compares the innovations in seed processing and labor allocation that allow granivorous ant societies to balance their annual budget, and occasionally, to grow.


While some species rely on germination to access large seeds, others increase worker number by reducing worker body size. In turn, worker body size influences nest complexity, the tendency to rescue of sisters from spider webs, and even the size of invading myrmecophiles, like parasitic ant crickets.