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Colony sex ratios vary with breeding system but not relatedness asymmetry in the facultatively polygynous ant Pheidole pallidula
Comparative Study Journal Article
We investigated sex allocation in a Mediterranean population of the facultatively polygynous (multiple queen per colony) ant Pheidole pallidula. This species shows a strong split sex ratio, with most colonies producing almost exclusively a single-sex brood. Our genetic (microsatellite) analyses reveal that P. pallidula has an unusual breeding system, with colonies being headed by a single or a few unrelated queens. As expected in such a breeding system, our results show no variation in relatedness asymmetry between monogynous (single queen per colony) and polygynous colonies. Nevertheless, sex allocation was tightly associated with the breeding structure, with monogynous colonies producing a male-biased brood and polygynous colonies almost only females. In addition, sex allocation was closely correlated with colony total sexual productivity. Overall, our data show that when colonies become more productive (and presumably larger) they shift from monogyny to polygyny and from male production to female production, a pattern that has never been reported in social insects.
Animals Ants/*genetics/*physiology France Reproduction/physiology Selection (Genetics) *Sex Ratio *Sexual Behavior, Animal Social Dominance
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