The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct

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Overview

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of The Ants comes this dynamic and visually spectacular portrait of Earth's ultimate superorganism.

The Leafcutter Ants is the most detailed and authoritative description of any ant species ever produced. With a text suitable for both a lay and a scientific audience, the book provides an unforgettable tour of Earth's most evolved animal societies. Each colony of leafcutters contains as many as five million workers, all the daughters of a ...

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The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct

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Overview

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of The Ants comes this dynamic and visually spectacular portrait of Earth's ultimate superorganism.

The Leafcutter Ants is the most detailed and authoritative description of any ant species ever produced. With a text suitable for both a lay and a scientific audience, the book provides an unforgettable tour of Earth's most evolved animal societies. Each colony of leafcutters contains as many as five million workers, all the daughters of a single queen that can live over a decade. A gigantic nest can stretch thirty feet across, rise five feet or more above the ground, and consist of hundreds of chambers that reach twenty-five feet below the ground surface. Indeed, the leafcutters have parlayed their instinctive civilization into a virtual domination of forest, grassland, and cropland—from Louisiana to Patagonia. Inspired by a section of the authors' acclaimed The Superorganism, this brilliantly illustrated work provides the ultimate explanation of what a social order with a half-billion years of animal evolution has achieved.

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Editorial Reviews

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By any standard except stature, leafcutter ants are downright awesome. Colonies of these tiny leaf-cutters contain as many as five million workers, all the daughters of a single fertile queen. Their nests are gigantic, some of them stretching thirty feet across, five feet above the ground and twenty-five feet beneath it. These fingernail-sized conquistadors have built empires from Louisiana to Patagonia. In this truly astonishing book, sociobiologists Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson present the most detailed, authoritative description of any ant species ever produced. The pair's infatuation is always well-documented: their 1991 The Ants won a much-deserved Pulitzer Prize. Flip the pages. The photographs and captions alone are worth the price of this paperback original.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393338683
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/15/2010
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 627,564
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Bert Hölldobler is Foundation Professor at Arizona State University and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. He lives in Arizona and Germany.

Edward O. Wilson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Social Conquest of Earth and Anthill: A Novel, as well as the Pulitzer Prize–winning On Human Nature and (with Bert Hölldobler) The Ants. For his contributions in science and conservation, he has received more than one hundred awards from around the world. A professor emeritus at Harvard University, he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations ix

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 The Ultimate Superorganisms 5

Chapter 2 The Attine Breakthrough 11

Chapter 3 The Ascent of the Leafcutters 31

Chapter 4 Life Cycle of the Leafcutter Ants 33

Chapter 5 The Atta Caste System 51

Chapter 6 Harvesting Vegetation 59

Chapter 7 Communication in Atta 77

Chapter 8 The Ant-Fungus Mutualism 89

Chapter 9 Hygiene in the Symbiosis 95

Chapter 10 Waste Management 107

Chapter 11 Agropredators and Agroparasites 111

Chapter 12 Lcafcutcer Nests 115

Chapter 13 Trails and Trunk Routes 123

Acknowledgments 129

Glossary 131

References 139

Index 155

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    Very interesting

    For those who are curious about ants and fascinated by evolution.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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