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Ecology and evolution of social-organization: insights from fire ants and other highly eusocial insects
Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics
Social organisms exhibit conspicuous intraspecific variation in all facets of their social organization. A prominent example of such variation in the highly eusocial Hymenoptera is differences in the number of reproductive queens per colony, Differences in queen number in ants are associated with differences in a host of reproductive and social traits, including queen phenotype and breeding strategy, mode of colony reproduction, and pattern of sex allocation. We examine the causes and consequences of changes in colony queen number and associated traits using the fire ant Solenopsis invicta as a principal model. Ecological constraints on mode of colony founding may act as important selective forces causing the evolution of queen number in this and many other ants, with social organization generally perpetuated across generations by means of the social environment molding appropriate queen phenotypes and reproductive strategies. Shifts in colony queen number have profound effects on genetic structure within nests and may also influence genetic structure at higher levels (aggregations of nests or local demes) because of the association of queen number with particular mating and dispersal habits. Divergence of breeding habits between populations with different social organizations has the potential to promote genetic differentiation between these social variants. Thus, evolution of social organization can be important in generating intrinsic selective regimes that channel subsequent social evolution and in initiating the development of significant population genetic structure, including barriers to gene flow important in cladogenesis.
monogyny polygyny social evolution gene flow polymorphism solenopsis-invicta hymenoptera genetic population-structure iridomyrmex-humilis mayr multiple-queen colonies myrmica-rubra latreille reproductive success polygyne colonies neotropical wasp sex allocation argentine ant
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