Original Paper

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 647-657

First online:

Queen–worker–brood coadaptation rather than conflict may drive colony resource allocation in the ant Temnothorax curvispinosus

  • Timothy A. LinksvayerAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Indiana UniversitySchool of Life Sciences, Arizona State University Email author 

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Conflicts of interest among genetically heterogeneous nestmates in social insect colonies have been emphasized as driving colony resource allocation. However, potential intracolonial conflicts may not actually be realized so that resource allocation could be shaped primarily by among-colony selection that maximizes colony productivity. To elucidate the causal basis of patterns of resource allocation, I experimentally manipulated three fundamental aspects of colony social structure (relatedness among workers, relatedness among larvae, and queen presence) in the ant Temnothorax curvispinosus and measured effects on colony resource allocation to new workers, gynes, and males. The experimental manipulations had widespread effects on patterns of colony resource allocation, but there was little evidence for realized conflicts over the sex ratio and caste ratio. Decreasing nestmate relatedness caused decreased colony productivity, suggesting that more closely related nestmates have more favorably interacting phenotypes. Together, these results suggest that resource allocation in T. curvispinosus may be shaped more by among-colony selection than intracolonial conflict, leading to queen–worker–brood coadaptation.


Caste ratio Intracolonial conflict Levels of selection Social evolution Sex ratio