Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 165–173

The social behavior of Leptothorax allardycei (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): time budgets and the evolution of worker reproduction

  • Blaine J. Cole

DOI: 10.1007/BF00290820

Cite this article as:
Cole, B.J. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1986) 18: 165. doi:10.1007/BF00290820


The use of time by workers of the ant Leptothorax allardycei (Mann) is examined. Theoretical predictions are developed concerning the maximal lowering in colony reproductive output that is consistent with the evolution of worker production. Measurements are made of the effect of aggression on colony efficiency. Analysis of time budgets indicate that a typical ant spends a large fraction (0.55) of its time quiescent and another large fraction of time (0.32) involved in undifferentiated activity. Dominance activity and brood care together make up about 11% of the total time. The amount of time spent on dominance activity is negatively related to the amount of time spent on brood care, but positively related to the amount of time that an ant is active. The amount of time that an ant has available for brood care which is actually spent on brood care declines with the amount of time spent on dominance activity. The amount of time that a worker spends feeding liquid food to larvae is a function of hierarchy rank; alpha spends the most time, beta less and gamma still less. The spread of the trait of worker reproduction is examined theoretically, with particular regard to the associated costs to colony reproduction. Worker reproduction can spread through a population, under a variety of formulations, provided the cost to colony reproduction is less than some critical value in the neighborhood of 0.17–0.22 of the total colony output. The cost of worker reproduction in L. allardycei is estimated in two ways: as a time cost and as a reduction in the total number of brood tended per unit time. The two estimates of cost are 0.15 and 0.13 respectively. The reproductive options of the worker caste and the division of reproductive labor vary considerably between species. Reproduction by workers yields fitness differences between workers and results in competition among workers with the result that colony efficiency is affected.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blaine J. Cole
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA