Many animals direct assistance selectively toward relatives and/or aggression toward non-relatives; the ability to differentiate between kin and non-kin should evolve when doing so incurs fitness benefits. We detail a field-based experiment that tests whether workers of a large-bodied, abundant, and hardy seed-harvester ant are capable of kin recognition. We use this exercise in an undergraduate animal-behavior class to introduce concepts associated with eusocial insects and the study of kin recognition, as well as to reinforce principles of hypothesis testing, experimental design, and scientific writing. Students collect data, analyze and interpret results, and write a formal report; this experiment is one of several we use as models to prepare students for designing and performing their own follow-up studies.
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Vol. 73 • No. 7