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Kin structure and queen execution in the Argentine ant Linepithema humile
Journal of evolutionary Biology
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Every spring, workers of the Argentine Ant Linepithema humile kill a large proportion of queens within their nests, Although this behaviour inflicts a high energetic cost oil the colonies, its biological significance has remained elusive so far. An earlier study showed that the probability of a queen being executed is not related to her weight, fecundity, or age. Here we test the hypothesis that workers collectively eliminate queens to which they are less related, thereby increasing their inclusive fitness. We found no evidence for this hypothesis. Workers of a nest were on average not significantly less related to executed queens than to surviving ones. Moreover, a population genetic analysis revealed that workers were not genetically differentiated between nests. This means that workers of a given nest are equally related to any queen in the population and that there can be no increase in average worker-queen relatedness by selective elimination of queens. Finally, our genetic analyses also showed that, in contrast to workers, queens were significantly genetically differentiated between nests and that there was significant isolation by distance for queens.
hymenoptera kin selection population structure social insects spite unicoloniality iridomyrmex-humilis french population hymenoptera insects
Web of science
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