Article: article from journal or magazin.
Division of labour influences the rate of ageing in weaver ant workers.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences
The evolutionary theory of ageing predicts that the timing of senescence has been primarily shaped by the extrinsic mortality rate, which causes selection intensity to decline over time. One difficulty in testing the evolutionary theory of ageing is that extrinsic mortality risk is often confounded with body size and fecundity, which may also directly affect lifespan. Social insects with a pronounced division of labour between worker castes provide a unique opportunity to study the direct effect of extrinsic mortality on the evolution of ageing rates independently of body size, reproductive effort and genetic configuration. In the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, the major (large) workers perform the risky tasks outside the nest, while the minor (small) workers stay within the highly protected arboreal nest. Hence, this pronounced division of labour is associated with high differences in extrinsic mortality risks. The evolutionary theory of ageing predicts that the minor workers should have a longer intrinsic lifespan than the major workers. In line with this prediction, we found that in a protected environment the minor workers lived significantly longer than the major workers did. Hence, the ageing rate appears to have been moulded by variation in the extrinsic mortality rate independently of size, reproductive effort and genetic configuration.
Aging/physiology, Animals, Ants/anatomy & histology, Ants/physiology, Behavior, Animal, Female
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