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Resource supplements cause a change in colony sex-ratio specialization in the mound-building ant, Formica exsecta
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
076KK Times Cited:2 Cited References Count:47 --- Old month value: Sep
We examine the role of food resources on split sex ratios in Formica exsecta. Models of resource-based sex allocation predict that greater resources will cause an increase in the production of reproductive females (gynes) and an increase in overall size of offspring. We experimentally increased food resources for a subset of colonies in a polygynous population with a very male-biased sex ratio. This increase in food availability caused colonies that were male specialists the prior year to switch to female production. Overall, a significantly greater proportion of food-supplemented colonies produced gynes, compared to control colonies. Moreover, food-supplemented colonies produced significantly larger workers and males (but not gynes), compared to those produced by control colonies. There was, however, no significant difference in the numerical productivity of food-supplemented and control colonies. We also measured the natural association between colony sex specialization and proximity to conifers, which typically harbor honeydew-bearing aphids (an important natural food source). In line with the view that resources play an important role for determining sex ratios in social insects, we found that female-producing colonies were significantly closer to conifers than were male-producing colonies.
hymenoptera productivity resources sex allocation social insects western harvester ant pheidole-pallidula pogonomyrmex-occidentalis reproductive allocation relatedness asymmetry parental investment social hymenoptera queen control forest ants male size
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