n African Entomology - Nestmate recognition and genetic variability among individuals from nests of the queenless ponerine ant, Smith (Hymenoptera : Formicidae)

Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



Nestmate recognition in the queenless ponerine ant, , was evaluated with a behavioural bioassay. Ten pairs of nests were randomly chosen from an aggregation of 74 nests. While nestmates never showed aggression towards each other, the behaviour towards non-nestmates was either aggressive or non-aggressive, demonstrating the ability to recognize nestmates. Also, the nests in this aggregation were evenly spaced, further supporting the notion of territoriality in this species. To evaluate the relative importance of environment and genetics on the observed variation in nestmate recognition, we measured the spatial and genetic distances between nests. Workers of 13 nests were genotyped with the AFLP technique. Multiple regression analysis revealed no significant impact of spatial and genetic distance on aggressive behaviour. Thus, further studies are necessary to reveal the actual mechanisms underlying nestmate recognition in this species. Two distinct groups of nests with genetically homogeneous and heterogeneous workers were found, which may indicate gamergate replacement or colony fission.

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