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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science