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Relationships between phenotype, mating behavior, and fitness of queens in the ant Lasius niger
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Comparative Study Journal Article
Considerable attention has focused on why females of many species mate with several males. For social hymenopteran insects, efforts have primarily concentrated on determining whether multiple mating increases colony performance due to the increased genetic diversity. Most of these studies are correlative because it is difficult or impossible to experimentally mate queens in most species. Thus, the positive associations found between multiple paternity and colony fitness in some cases may not be due to direct effects of genetic diversity but could, in theory, arise from high-quality queens having more mates. Here we show that in the ant Lasius niger variation in the number of matings covaries with queen phenotype. Young queens that were heavier at the time of the mating flight were significantly more likely to mate with several males. As a result, heavier queens stored more sperm. The initial weight of queens was significantly associated with the probability of surviving mating flights during the two years of the study, with queens of intermediate weight having the highest across-year survival. Queen initial weight was also significantly and positively associated with the quantity of brood at the time of the first worker eclosion as well as colony productivity at the time of hibernation. By contrast, there was little evidence for a positive effect of the number of matings on colony performance when the effect of mate number and queen initial weight were considered simultaneously.
Animals Ants/*physiology Body Constitution Female Gene Frequency Male Microsatellite Repeats/genetics *Phenotype *Selection (Genetics) Sexual Behavior, Animal/*physiology *Social Behavior Spermatozoa/*chemistry Switzerland
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