Colony structure, population structure, and sharing of foraging trees in the ant Myrmecia nigriceps (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

V. Als, A. Narendra, W. Arthofer, P. Krapf, F. M. Steiner, B. C. Schlick-Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Foraging ants face many dangers in search of food and often need to defend their prey to ensure the colony’s survival, although ants may also follow a peaceful foraging strategy. A non-aggressive approach is seen in the Australian bull ant Myrmecia nigriceps, in that workers of neighboring nests sometimes share foraging trees. In this study, we observed 31 nests at Mount Majura Nature Reserve in Canberra (Australia), 12 of which shared a foraging tree with at least one other nest in at least one of three nights. We genotyped 360 individuals at five published microsatellite loci and further established a set of nine polymorphic loci for M. nigriceps. Our results revealed a significant correlation between tree sharing and geographical distance between nests. We found no correlation between internest relatedness and tree sharing, geographical distance between nests and internest relatedness, and intranest relatedness and tree sharing. We further investigated the colony structure of M. nigriceps. All colonies were monodomous; the number of queens per colony ranged from one to two, and the number of fathers from one to three. No instances of worker drifting were found in this study.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Early online date30 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Dispersal
  • Foraging behavior
  • Microsatellites
  • Tree-sharing

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