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Worker Reproduction in Formica Ants

Heikki Helanterä and Liselotte Sundström
The American Naturalist
Vol. 170, No. 1 (July 2007), pp. E14-E25
DOI: 10.1086/518185
Stable URL:
Page Count: 12
Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Biological Sciences
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Worker Reproduction in Formica Ants
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Abstract: A potential tragedy of the commons arises in social‐insect colonies where workers are fertile if egg‐laying workers decrease their contribution to other tasks. We studied worker ovary development and egg laying in relation to kin structure, colony size, and the presence of a queen in nine species (11 populations) of Formica ants. Workers were highly fertile and laid eggs in the presence of a queen in five out of the seven species where egg samples were obtained. Worker fertility correlated neither with colony size nor with kin structure, which suggests that colony‐level costs and efficiency of policing precede relatedness as the most important conflict determinant. We conclude that careful quantification of the costs of worker reproduction and policing is essential for inferences about the tragedy of the commons.

Notes and References

This item contains 96 references.

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