Advertisement

Making the right choice: how Crematogaster scutellaris queens choose to co-found in relation to nest availability

  • A. Masoni
  • F. Frizzi
  • S. Turillazzi
  • G. Santini
Research Article

Abstract

One of the main tasks a freshly mated ant queen has to face is to find a safe and suitable nest site to start a new colony. Colony foundation by associated queens, also known as pleometrosis, has been described for several ant species and, under specific selective pressures, represents an alternative to independent colony foundation. Despite most newly mated queens of the common Mediterranean acrobat ant Crematogaster scutellaris generally adopting independent colony foundation inside tree trunks, both field and laboratory studies have demonstrated that the formation of pleometrotic groups may occur, particularly inside lignified aphid galls on poplar or oak trees. These associations typically end with the survival of only one queen after the foundation phase, and the benefits they may provide remain unclear. In this study, we investigated how queen density and different nest availability may promote the formation of pleometrotic associations in C. scutellaris. We found that occupied nests are not actively sought after by queens, as hypothesised in previous studies, but might be accepted when they are the only safe refugia available. Moreover, the tendency to form groups increases as queen density increases, and nest availability is a limiting factor. Finally, we found no evidence that the size of the queen affects whether to join an already occupied nest.

Keywords

Mediterranean acrobat ant Pleometrosis Colony founding Nest choice Queen associations 

References

  1. Adams ES, Tschinkel WR (1995) Effects of foundress number on brood raids and queen survival in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 37:233–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aron S, Steinhauer N, Fournier D (2009) Influence of queen phenotype, investment and maternity apportionment on the outcome of fights in cooperative foundations of the ant Lasius niger. Anim Behav 77:1067–1074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balas MT (2005) Conditions favoring queen execution in young social insect colonies. Insect Soc 52:77–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balas MT, Adams ES (1996) The dissolution of cooperative groups: mechanisms of queen mortality in incipient fire ant colonies. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 38:391–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baroni Urbani C (1971) Catalogo delle specie di Formicidae d’Italia (studi sulla mirmecofauna d’Italia X). Mem Soc Ent Ital 50:5–287Google Scholar
  6. Baroni Urbani C, Souliè J (1962) Monogynie chez la fourmi Cremastogaster scutellaris (Hymenoptera:Formicidae). Bull Soc Hist Nat Toulouse 97:29–34Google Scholar
  7. Bartz SH, HÓ§lldobler B (1982) Colony founding in Myrmecocystus mimicus wheeler and the evolution of foundress associations. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 10:137–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bernasconi G, Keller L (1999) Effect of queen phenotype and social environment on early queen mortality in incipient colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Anim Behav 57:371–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bernasconi G, Strassmann JE (1999) Cooperation among unrelated individuals: the ant foundress case. Trends Ecol Evol 14:477–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Breed M (2017) Forced queen associations. Insect Soc 2:177–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cahan S, Helms KR, Rissing SW (1998) An abrupt transition in colony founding behaviour in the ant Messor pergandei. Anim Behav 55:1583–1594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cahan SH, Fewell JH (2004) Division of labor and the evolution of task sharing in queen associations of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. Behav Ecol Soc 56:9–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Casevitz-Weulersse J (1972) Habitat et comportement de Crematogaster scutellaris OLIVER (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bull Soc Entomol Fr 77:12–19Google Scholar
  14. Casevitz-Weulersse J (1991) Reproduction et développement des sociétés de Crematogaster scutellaris OLIVER (Hymenoptera:Formicidae). Ann Soc Entomol Fr 27:103–111Google Scholar
  15. Cole B (2009) The ecological setting of social evolution: the demography of ant populations. In: Gadau J, Fewell JH (eds) Organization of insect societies: from genome to sociocomplexity. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 74–105Google Scholar
  16. Fournier D, Battaille G, Timmermans I, Aron S (2008) Genetic diversity, worker size polymorphism and division of labour in the polyandrous ant Cataglyphis cursor. Anim Behav 75:151–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frizzi F, Panichi S, Rispoli A, Masoni A, Santini G (2014) Spatial variation of the aggressive response towards conspecifics in the ant Crematogaster scutellaris (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Redia 97:165–169Google Scholar
  18. Frizzi F, Ciofi C, Dapporto L, Natali C, Chelazzi G, Turillazzi S, Santini G (2015) The rules of aggression: how genetic, chemical and spatial factors affect intercolony fights in a dominant species, the mediterranean acrobat ant Crematogaster scutellaris. PloS One 10(10)Google Scholar
  19. Han DA, Tschinkel WR (1997) Settlement and distribution of colony-founding queens of the arboreal ant, Crematogaster ashmeadi, in a longleaf pine forest. Insect Soc 44:323–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heinze J, Trunzer B, Hölldobler B, Delabie JHC (2001) Reproductive skew and queen relatedness in an ant with primary polygyny. Insect Soc 48:149–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Helmkampf M, Mikheyev AS, Kang Y, Fewell J, Gadau J (2016) Gene expression and variation in social aggression by queens of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. Mol Ecol 25:3716–3730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Helms KR, Helms Cahan S (2012) Large-scale regional variation in cooperation and conflict among queens of the desert ant Messor pergandei. Anim Behav 84:499–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Herbers JM (1986) Nest site limitation and facultative polygyny in the ant Leptothorax longispinosus. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19:115–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hood WG, Tschinkel WR (1990) Desiccation resistance in arboreal and terrestrial ants. Physiol Entomol 15:23–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1977) The number of queens: an important trait in ant evolution. Naturwissenschaften 64:8–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1990) The ants. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (2009) The superorganism: the beauty, elegance, and strangeness of insect societies. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Kellner K, Trindl A, Heinze J, d’Ettorre P (2007) Polygyny and polyandry in small ant societies. Mol Ecol 16:2363–2369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keller L, Passera L (1989) Size and fat content of gynes in relation to the mode of colony founding in ants (Hymenoptera; Formicidae). Oecol 80:236–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kemp DJ, Wiklund C (2004) Residency effects in animal contests. Proc R Soc Lond B 271:1707–1712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krebs RA, Rissing SW (1991) Preference for larger foundress associations in the desert ant Messor pergandei. Anim Behav 41:361–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jeanson R, Fewell JH (2008) Influence of the social context on division of labor in ant foundress associations. Behav Ecol 19:567–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Johnson RA (2004) Colony founding by pleometrosis in the semiclaustral seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Anim Behav 68:1189–1200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Masoni A, Frizzi F, Mattioli M, Turillazzi S, Ciofi C, Santini G (2017) Pleometrotic colony foundation in the ant Crematogaster scutellaris (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): better be alone than in bad company. Myrmecol News 25:51–59Google Scholar
  35. Masoni A (2017) Ecology and behaviour of the dominant ant Crematogaster scutellaris (Olivier 1792). PhD dissertation, Università degli studi di FirenzeGoogle Scholar
  36. Motro M, Motro U, Cohen D (2016) Decision making by young queens of the harvester ant Messor semirufus while searching for a suitable nesting site. Insect Soc 63:615–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Motro M, Motro U, Cohen D (2017) Forced associations by young queens of the harvester ant Messor semirufus during colony founding. Insect Soc 64:179–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nonacs P (1990) Size and kinship affect success of co-founding Lasius pallitarsis queens. Psyche 97:217–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nonacs P (1992) Queen condition and alate density affect pleometrosis in the ant Lasius pallitarsis. Insect Soc 39:3–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Overson RP (2011) Causes and consequences of queen-number variation in the California harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. Dissertation, Arizona State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  41. Overson R, Gadau J, Clark RM, Pratt SC, Fewell JH (2014) Behavioral transitions with the evolution of cooperative nest founding by harvester ant queens. Behav Ecol Soc 68:21–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pfenning DW (1995) Absence of joint nesting advantage in desert seed harvester ants: evidence from a field experiment. Anim Behav 49:567–575Google Scholar
  43. Rissing SW, Johnson RA, Pollock GB (1986) Natal nest distribution and pleometrosis in the desert leaf-cutter ant Acromyrmex versicolor (Pergande) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Psyche 93:177–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rissing SW, Pollock GB (1987) Queen aggression, pleometrotic advantage and brood raiding in the ant Veromessor pergandei (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Anim Behav 35:975–981CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rueppell O, Heinze J (1999) Alternative reproductive tactics in females: the case of size polymorphism in winged ant queens. Insect Soc 46:6–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Santini G, Tucci L, Ottonetti L, Frizzi F (2007) Competition trade-offs in the organisation of a Mediterranean ant assemblage. Ecol Entom 32:319–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sasaki K, Jibiki E, Satoh T, Obara Y (2005) Queen phenotype and behaviour during cooperative colony founding in Polyrhachis moesta. Insect Soc 52:19–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schneider CA, Rasband WS, Eliceiri KW (2012) NIH Image to ImageJ: 25 years of image analysis. Nat Methods 9:671–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Shaffer Z, Sasaki T, Haney B, Janssen M, Pratt SC, Fewell JH (2016) The foundress’s dilemma: group selection for cooperation among queens of the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex californicus. Sci Rep 6:29828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sommer K, Hölldobler B (1995) Colony founding by queen association and determinants of reduction in queen number in the ant Lasius niger. Anim Behav 50:287–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Trunzer B, Heinze J, Hölldobler B (1998) Cooperative colony founding and experimental primary polygyny in the ponerine ant Pachycondyla villosa. Insect Soc 45:267–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tschinkel WR, Howard DF (1983) Colony founding by pleometrosis in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Behav Ecol Soc 12:103–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tschinkel WR (1993) Sociometry and sociogenesis of colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta during one annual cycle. Ecol Monogr 63:425–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tschinkel WR (2006) The fire ants. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  55. Vargo EL (1992) Mutual pheromonal inhibition among queens in polygyne colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Behav Ecol Soc 31:205–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Masoni
    • 1
  • F. Frizzi
    • 1
  • S. Turillazzi
    • 1
  • G. Santini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of FlorenceSesto FiorentinoItaly

Personalised recommendations