, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 340-345

Mating biology and population structure of the ant, Leptothorax gredleri

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Summary

Female sexuals of the ant Leptothorax gredleri attract males by “sexual calling.” In an experimental set-up allowing for competition among males, both female and male sexuals copulated with up to four partners, with the median being one mate in both sexes. Neither male nor female sexuals invariably mated with the first partner they encountered, but we could not find any morphological difference between sexuals that succeeded in mating multiply and those that copulated only once. Males did not aggressively compete for access to the female sexuals. According to microsatellite genotyping, workers produced by multiply mated queens were all offspring of a single father, i.e. queens appear to use sperm from a single mate to fertilize their eggs. Population genetic studies revealed a strong population subdivision, suggesting that both male and female sexuals mate in the vicinity of their maternal nests and that gene flow is strongly restricted even between forest patches isolated only by a few meters of grassland.