Article: article from journal or magazin.
Flexible colony-founding strategies in a socially polymorphic ant
In social insects the number of queens per nest varies greatly. One of the proximate causes of this variation may be that queens produced by multiple-queen colonies are generally smaller, and might thus be unable to found new colonies independently. We examined whether the social origin of queens and males influenced the colony-founding success of queens in the socially polymorphic ant Formica selysi. Queens originating from single-queen and multiple-queen colonies had similar survival rates and colony-founding success, be they alone or in two-queen associations. During the first 5 months, queens originating from single-queen colonies gave rise to more workers than queens originating from multiple-queen colonies. Pairs of queens were also more productive than single queens. However, these differences in productivity were transient, as all types of colonies had reached a similar size after 15 months. Mating between social forms was possible and did not decrease queen survival or colony productivity, compared to mating within social forms. Overall, these results indicate that queens from each social form are able to found colonies independently, at least under laboratory conditions. Moreover, gene flow between social forms is not restricted by mating or genetic incompatibilities. This flexibility in mating and colony founding helps to explain the maintenance of alternative social structures in sympatry and the absence of genetic differentiation between social forms.
ant, colony founding, dispersal, Formica selysi, queen number, social evolution, social insect, social structure
Web of science
Last modification date