, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 39-49

Geographic distribution of the anti-parasite trait “slave rebellion”

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Abstract

Social parasites exploit the brood care behavior of other species and can exert strong selection pressures on their hosts. As a consequence, hosts have developed defenses to circumvent or to lower the costs of parasitism. Recently, a novel, indirect defense trait, termed slave rebellion, has been described for hosts of a slave-making ant: Enslaved Temnothorax longispinosus workers reduce local parasite pressure by regularly killing pupae of their obligatory slavemaking parasite Protomognathus americanus. Subsequently, growth of social parasite nests is reduced, which leads to fewer raids and likely increases fitness of neighboring related host colonies. In this study, we investigate the presence and expression the slave rebellion trait in four communities. We report its presence in all parasitized communities, document strong variation in its expression between different geographic sites and discuss potential explanations for this observed variation.