Mating system, optimal number of matings, and sperm transfer in the Argentine ant Iridomyrmex humilis


Serval ID
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Mating system, optimal number of matings, and sperm transfer in the Argentine ant Iridomyrmex humilis
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Keller L., Passera L.
Publication state
Issued date
In ants, because males have a finite sperm supply and females mate only at the beginning of their reproductive lives, it is possible to infer which is the limiting sex from a few parameters: the amount of sperm produced by males, the amount of sperm stored by females, and the numerical sex ratio. In the Argentine ant Iridomyrmex humilis mating takes place in the nest. Laboratory experiments and field data showed that the numerical sex ratio is heavily male-biased (10.1 : 1) and that the maximum number of sperm a female can store is similar to the number of sperm a male possesses. Thus females are the limiting sex in this species. In a set of mating experiments, one queen was presented with 1-20 males. The highest proportion of successful matings occurred when females were presented with two males. There was a significant negative correlation between the amount of sperm queens stored and the number of males present in the mating arena. This relationship most likely resulted from male interference during the copulation process. When several males were present in the arena, the mating pair was frequently disturbed by other males trying to copulate. Newly mated queens collected from the field stored 172,000 +/- 76,000 sperm, a quantity most similar to that measured in laboratory mating experiments with a ratio of 5 or 10 males per queen. Because the operational sex ratio in I. humilis is highly male-biased, male interference may also decrease the amount of sperm queens store in the field. In many ants, fewer sperm stored by queens should decrease their reproductive success because they would run out of sperm earlier in their reproductive lifetimes. However, comparison of the amount of sperm present in young and old I. humilis queens collected in the field suggests that most use only a small proportion of their sperm supply during their lifetimes. Males mate once and discharge all their sperm during a single mating. Females may mate with several males but dissection of these males indicated that in most cases only one of them had empty seminal vesicles thus suggesting that a single male is responsible for most of the sperm transfer. Thus caution should be exercised in inferring multiple inseminations, as is frequently done in eusocial insects, from the observation of multiple copulations.
social hymenoptera queen number fire ant solenopsis-invicta sexual selection dimorphic males formicidae evolution mayr behavior
Web of science
Create date
24/01/2008 19:39
Last modification date
20/08/2019 17:02
Usage data