Stay or drift? Queen acceptance in the ant Formica paralugubris

Abstract : The acceptance of new queens in ant colonies has profound effects on colony kin structure and inclusive fitness of workers. Therefore, it is important to study the recognition and discrimination behaviour of workers towards reproductive individuals entering established colonies. We examined the acceptance rate of queens in populations of the highly polygynous ant F. paralugubris, where the genetic differentiation among nests and discrimination ability among workers suggest that workers might reject foreign queens. We experimentally introduced young queens in their natal nest and in foreign nests. Surprisingly, the survival rate of mated queens did not differ significantly when introduced in a foreign male-producing nest, a foreign female-producing nest, or the natal nest. Moreover, the survival of virgin queens in their natal nest was twice the one of mated queens, suggesting that mating status plays an important role for acceptance. The results indicate that other factors than queen discrimination by workers are implicated in the limited long-distance gene flow between nests in these populations.
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B. Holzer, J. Meunier, L. Keller, M. Chapuisat. Stay or drift? Queen acceptance in the ant Formica paralugubris. Insectes Sociaux, Springer Verlag, 2008, 55 (4), pp.392-396. ⟨10.1007/s00040-008-1017-2⟩. ⟨hal-02140573⟩

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