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Brood development into sexual females depends on the presence of a queen but not on temperature in an ant dispersing by colony fission, Aphaenogaster senilis

AuthorsBoulay, Raphaël; Cerdá, Xim ; fertin, Arnold; Ichinose, K.; Lenoir, Alain
Issue Date2009
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationEcological Entomology 34: 595- 602 (2009)
Abstract1. In eusocial insects, colony fission is a mode of dispersal by which a young queen leaves her nest with some workers to found a new colony. In these species, adult females (workers and the queen) should allocate most resources to increasing their colony size, which constrains the possibility of fission. In contrast, developing diploid larvae should have a preference for becoming a queen and having their own offspring, rather than becoming workers and rearing the offspring of other females. 2. In the ant Aphaenogaster senilis, queens are produced in very small numbers, suggesting that adult females control larval development. We used a 6-year series of data on more than 300 nests to determine the annual cycle of worker and queen production. Although both overlapped, the latter mostly occurred in the second half of the summer, after a major peak of worker emergence. Young queens were also often produced in nests whose reproductive queen had died, thus allowing her replacement. Overall, we estimate that only 0.07% of diploid larvae actually develop into gynes. 3. Laboratory experiments indicated that brood is bipotent until the second larval instar. Diploid larval development into queen was favoured by the removal of the mother queen, but was not affected by rearing temperature. 4. Our data suggest that most diploid broods are forced by the adults to develop into workers rather than into gynes. However, when the queen is not present due to death or after a fission event, a few larvae are allowed to develop into gynes. One way for workers to limit the development of larvae might be by controlling the amount of food they receive. © 2009 The Royal Entomological Society.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2009.01108.x
issn: 0307-6946
Appears in Collections:(EBD) Artículos
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