Tool selection during foraging in two species of funnel ants

This paper is to be found in Animal Behaviour, Volume 123, January 2017, pp. 207–216. Could this be an extension of the mechanism of stigmergy? (H/T to Jerry Coyne).

We investigated tool selection in two species of Aphaenogaster ants by giving them the choice between different kinds of potential tools (natural and artificial objects). Ant workers showed a clear preference for certain materials to be used as tool objects. Tool selection was also shaped by familiarity with the material as ants developed a preference for artificial tools with a good soaking capacity that cannot be found in their natural environment. Our results indicate that ants of this genus have evolved unique foraging strategies and show plasticity in their behaviour.