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Frequent colony relocations do not result in effective dispersal in the gypsy ant Aphaenogaster senilis

AuthorsGalarza, Juan A.; Jovani, Roger ; Cerdá, Xim ; Rico, Ciro ; Barroso, Ángel; Boulay, Raphaël
Issue DateApr-2012
PublisherNordic Ecological Society Oikos
CitationOikos 121: 605–613, 2012
AbstractDispersal is an important step in animal’s life cycle, one consequence of which is reducing local mate and resource com- petition. Dispersal is often achieved during one unique special movement, from the birthplace to a new appropriate area where to settle and reproduce. However, in species in which this special movement is limited by life history tradeoffs, we may expect dispersal to be promoted also by routine movements occurring throughout the animal’s life and stimulated by other activities like foraging or the search of nesting conditions. Here we employ a multidisciplinary approach consisting of computer simulations, mark–recapture and genetic data to better understand the role of colony relocations as dispersal strategy in the gypsy ant Aphaenogaster senilis. Contrary to expectations, our results show that colony relocations do not result in effective dispersal as evidenced by mark–recapture and genetic data. Furthermore, simulations showed that suc- cessive colony relocations did not follow a constant direction, but occurred either in a randomly changing direction or fol- lowed a circular trajectory, indicating limited effective dispersal. We also found a general lack of inbreeding and significant population viscosity between neighbouring colonies suggesting that relocations may act as a balancing strategy between these two processes. We discuss the results in terms of their evolutionary and ecological significance, and highlight future directions of research towards the understanding of dispersal strategies in colonial species.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0706.2011.19859.x
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