Unexpected, well-developed nestmate recognition in laboratory colonies of polygyne imported fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Martin S. Obin, Laurence Morel, Robert K. Vander Meer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aggression bioassays were used to investigate nestmate recognition in polygyne laboratory colonies of the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. Unlike workers from polygyne field colonies, laboratory-maintained (>10 weeks) workers exhibited well-developed nestmate recognition. As in monogyne colonies of this species, both heritable and environmentally acquired (diet) odors provided recognition cues and were roughly additive in their effect. Within diet treatments, polygyne colonies responded in a graded fashion to polygyne conspecifics, monogyne conspecifics, and heterospecifics (S. richteri Forel), thus suggesting incipient genetic divergence between the two S. invicta social forms. Hypotheses to account for the acute intraspecific discrimination observed in the laboratory are presented. Empirical testing of these hypotheses will illuminate ecological constraints and proximate mechanisms underlying the reduced intercolony discrimination associated with natural polygyne colonies of this and other ant species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-589
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • colony odor
  • fire ants
  • Insecta
  • nestmate recognition
  • polygyne

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science

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