Here we have a collection of casts of underground nests made by the true harvester ant Veromessor andrei.
One of the characteristics of these colonies, is that they frequently relocate from one nest site to another. The fact that the same colony can be observed to inhabit different nests offers a unique opportunity to study how the structure of the nest influences the collective behaviour of the colony -such as, for instance, how fast they recruit nest-mates to a newly discovered food source-.
With this idea in mind, over the summer 2013 Noa Pinter-Wollman followed 28 of these colonies through their nest relocations and she also collected casts of the nests, as the colonies abandoned them for their relocations.
It turned out that the connectivity of the entrance chamber (the nest chamber closest to the entrance) had a strong impact on the speed of foraging recruitment: colonies that occupied nests with a highly connected chamber were able to mobilise a substantial number of foragers at a faster rate when they discovered a new food item (in this case, a slice of apple offered by the experimenter).
Beyond the study of foraging recruitment, these casts contribute to give us an idea of the structure of the nests occupied by these ants.