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----- ALTRUISTIC BEHAVIOUR -----
"(al troo is tik be hay vee ohr): the aiding of another individual at one's own risk or expense" [Campbell, Biology 4th Edition]

A worker leaf cutter ant collecting leaves for its colony
Picture from Leaf Cutter Ant.

Ant colonies exhibit altruistic behaviour. All the members of the colonies have certain responsibilities that they fulfill. For example, the workers go out to collect food to feed the colony. Yet ultimately, those who benefit from these actions are usually just the queen and larvae. This concept apparently contradicts Darwinism's concept of how "the strongest survive", thus leaving those who are unable to work for survival to die. However, it is extremely common that members of the ant colony are kin. Therefore, helping the queen ant and her offspring to survive is a way of strengthening that specific family structure, even if it creates some risk for the individual. Exceptions to this idea that relates to kin selection are present. Supercolonies have been discovered in Argentina where unrelated ant colonies have combined efforts to create a friendly social envirnoment in which each colony can flourish.


Bibliography
Ant "Supercolony" in Europe Raises Questions About Getting Along
Leaf Cutter Ant


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