Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Donald McFarlane

Reader 2

Marion Preest

Rights Information

© 2013 Elana A. Goldstein


In tropical forest systems, attine ants are the dominant herbivores. They construct large nest structures that include foraging trails that extend to multiple plant sources throughout the forest. These foraging areas vary from nest to nest and they are highly dynamic over time and season changes. It was expected that characteristics of both the nest structure and the surrounding environment would affect the size of nest foraging areas. In this study, COMPASS survey software and ArcGIS were used to map the foraging trails and calculate the foraging areas of 12 attine ant nests located on the Firestone Reserve, over the course of 6 weeks. Data collected at the ant nest sites on nest area, flow rate, trail number and neighboring nest proximity were combined with data collected from previous studies on soil pH and light fractions in order to test correlation hypotheses between these factors and foraging area. The mean foraging areas differed significantly from each other and significant correlations were found between foraging area and trail number, flow rate, neighbor distance and soil pH. Understanding foraging behavior of attine ants is important in the field of restoration ecology because these ants are important in determining overall structure and nutrient distribution in tropical forests.