Article: article from journal or magazin.
The influence of social structure on brood survival and development in a socially polymorphic ant: insights from a cross-fostering experiment.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Animal societies vary in the number of breeders per group, which affects many socially and ecologically relevant traits. In several social insect species, including our study species Formica selysi, the presence of either one or multiple reproducing females per colony is generally associated with differences in a suite of traits such as the body size of individuals. However, the proximate mechanisms and ontogenetic processes generating such differences between social structures are poorly known. Here, we cross-fostered eggs originating from single-queen (= monogynous) or multiple-queen (= polygynous) colonies into experimental groups of workers from each social structure to investigate whether differences in offspring survival, development time and body size are shaped by the genotype and/or prefoster maternal effects present in the eggs, or by the social origin of the rearing workers. Eggs produced by polygynous queens were more likely to survive to adulthood than eggs from monogynous queens, regardless of the social origin of the rearing workers. However, brood from monogynous queens grew faster than brood from polygynous queens. The social origin of the rearing workers influenced the probability of brood survival, with workers from monogynous colonies rearing more brood to adulthood than workers from polygynous colonies. The social origin of eggs or rearing workers had no significant effect on the head size of the resulting workers in our standardized laboratory conditions. Overall, the social backgrounds of the parents and of the rearing workers appear to shape distinct survival and developmental traits of ant brood.
eusociality, Formica selysi, Hymenoptera, nature vs, nurture, queen number, social structure
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