Worker polymorphism in ants has evolved repeatedly, with considerable differences in the morphometry of worker subcastes. Such body size differences and especially caste- and subcaste-specific characteristics might significantly influence locomotion. Therefore, we performed a comprehensive locomotion analysis along gradients in both body size and walking speed of Camponotus fellah worker subcastes, and of males, which have rarely been studied to date because of their short life spans associated with mating flights. We provide a detailed description of the morphometry and size differences of C. fellah castes and subcastes and analyse locomotion in the different polymorphic groups in terms of absolute and relative walking speeds (mesosoma lengths per second). Our results reveal that body size and shape affect locomotion behaviour to different extents in the worker subcastes (minor workers, medias, major workers) and in males. Nevertheless, C. fellah ants use the same overall locomotion strategy, with males and major workers reaching considerably lower walking speeds than minors and medias. Body size thus mainly affects walking speed. Minor workers reach the highest relative velocities by high relative stride lengths in combination with large vertical and lateral centre of mass oscillations and clearly higher stride frequencies of up to 25 Hz. Locomotion of males was characterised by clearly lower walking speeds, wider footprint positions, significant phase shifts and a notable dragging of the shorter hind legs. However, general walking parameters of males differed less from those of the female workers than expected as a result of division of labour in the colony.

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