Evolution of Ant-Mimicking Beetles
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that explored the evolutionary origins of parasitic beetles that mimic army ants.
Many beetle species in the subfamily Aleocharinae have developed bodies, behaviors, and chemical signals similar to those of army ants. This allows the beetles to live as social parasites within the ants’ colonies, where they secretly steal the ants’ food and eat their eggs. In this study, scientists used DNA sequencing to investigate the evolutionary relationships among these parasitic, ant-mimicking beetles. The figures show examples of ant-mimicking beetles and the ant species they parasitize, as well as a phylogenetic tree for Aleocharinae beetle species.
The “Educator Materials” document includes captioned figures, background information, figure interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes captioned figures and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Describe the symbiotic relationship of parasitism.
- Interpret a phylogenetic tree to analyze patterns of evolution, convergent evolution in particular.
adaptive radiation, army ant, cladogram, convergent evolution, evolutionary tree, mimicry, most recent common ancestor (MRCA), phylogenetic tree, social parasite, symbiosis
Maruyama, Munetoshi and Joseph Parker. “Deep-time convergence in rove beetle symbionts of army ants.” Current Biology 27, 6 (2017): 920–926. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.02.030
HS-LS4-1; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
1.B.2; SP1, SP2, SP5
CC1; DP2, DP3