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Parentage, reproductive skew and queen turnover in a multiple-queen ant analysed with microsatellites

Bourke, A. F. G., Green, H. A. A. and Bruford, Michael William 1997. Parentage, reproductive skew and queen turnover in a multiple-queen ant analysed with microsatellites. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 264 (1379) , pp. 277-283. 10.1098/rspb.1997.0039

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We investigated the fine genetic structure of colonies of the ant, Leptothorax acervorum, to examine how queens share parentage (skew) in a social insect with multiple queens (polygyny). Overall, 494 individuals from eight polygynous field colonies were typed at up to seven microsatellite loci each. The first main finding was that surprisingly many sexual progeny (60% of young queens and 49% of young males) were not the offspring of the extant queens within their colonies. This implies that a high turnover (brief reproductive lifespan) of queens within colonies could be an important feature of polygyny. The second main result was that in most colonies relatedness among sexual progeny fell significantly below that expected among full siblings, proving that these progeny were produced by more than one singly–mated queen, but that skew in two colonies where the data permitted its calculation was moderate to high. However, relative to a German population, the study population is characterized by low queen–queen relatedness and low skew in female production, which is in line with the predictions of skew theory.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Publisher: Royal Society
ISSN: 0962-8452
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:49

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