Unlike most desert-dwelling animals, ants do not attempt to escape the heat; rather, they apply their impressive heat tolerance to avoid competitors and predators. This thermally defined niche has promoted a range of adaptations both at the individual and colony levels. We have also recently discovered that within the genus there are incredibly diverse social systems, modes of reproduction, and dispersal, prompting the tantalizing question of whether social diversity may also be a consequence of the harsh environment within which we find these charismatic ants. Here we review recent advances regarding the physiological, behavioral, life-history, colony, and ecological characteristics of and consider perspectives on future research that will build our understanding of organic adaptive responses to desertification.


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