Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 319–328

The reproductive potential of workers in slave-making ants

  • J. Heinze
Research Article


Colonies of slave-making ants have been used repeatedly to test sex allocation theory. It was suggested that workers of slave-making ants are more strongly selected to reproduce than workers of related, non-parasitic species, because they are incapable of manipulating sex allocation and the sexualization of larvae in their colonies. I show here that in slave-making Formicoxenini, worker ovaries on average consist of significantly more ovarioles than in non-parasiticLeptothorax species. Similarly, whereas in mostLeptothorax species, workers form reproductive hierarchies and lay eggs only in orphaned colonies, slave-maker workers show antagonistic interactions already in the presence of the queen and at least in some species have been observed ovipositing in queen-right colonies. The significance of these results is discussed.

Key words

Sex ratio reproductive conflict social parasitism Formicidae 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altmann, J., 1974. Observational study of behavior: sampling methods.Behaviour 39:227–267.Google Scholar
  2. Baroni-Urbani, C., 1989. On a singular case of kin selection theory among Hymenoptera: justified fratricide and the natural way to avoid it.Ethol. Ecol. Evol. 1:373–378.Google Scholar
  3. Bolton, B., 1994.Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 222 pp.Google Scholar
  4. Boomsma, J. J., 1993. Sex ratio variation in polygynous ants. In:Queen number and sociality in insects (L. Keller, Ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 86–109.Google Scholar
  5. Bourke, A. F. G., 1988a. Worker reproduction in the higher eusocial Hymenoptera.Quart. Rev. Biol. 63:291–311.Google Scholar
  6. Bourke, A. F. G., 1988b. Dominance orders, worker reproduction, and queen-worker conflict in the slave-making antHarpagoxenus sublaevis.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 23:323–333.Google Scholar
  7. Bourke, A. F. G., 1989. Comparative analysis of sex-investment ratios in slave-making ants.Evolution 43:913–918.Google Scholar
  8. Bourke, A. F. G. and Franks, N. R., 1995.Social evolution in ants. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 529 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Bourke, A. F. G., T. M. van der Have and N. R. Franks, 1988. Sex ratio determination and worker reproduction in the slave-making antHarpagoxenus sublaevis.Behav. Ecol Sociobiol. 23:233–245.Google Scholar
  10. Brian, M. V., 1980. Social control over sex and caste in bees, wasps and ants.Biol. Rev. 55:379–415.Google Scholar
  11. Brian, M. V., 1983.Social insects: ecology and behavioural biology. Chapman and Hall, New York, 377pp.Google Scholar
  12. Brian, M. V. and J. Hibble, 1963. Larval size and the influence of the queen on growth inMyrmica.Ins. Soc. 10:71–81.Google Scholar
  13. Buschinger, A., 1968. Mono- und Polygynie bei Arten der GattungLeptothorax Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Ins. Soc. 15:217–226.Google Scholar
  14. Buschinger, A., 1979. Functional monogyny in the American guest antFormicoxenus hirticornis (Emery) (=Leptothorax hirticornis), (Hym., Formicidae).Ins. Soc. 26:61–68.Google Scholar
  15. Buschinger, A., 1981. Biological and systematic relationships of social parasiticLeptothoracini from Europe and North America. In:Biosystematics of social insects (P. E. Howse and J.-L. Clément, Eds.), Academic Press, London, pp. 211–222.Google Scholar
  16. Buschinger, A., 1986. Evolution of social parasitism in ants.Trends Ecol. Evol. 1:155–160.Google Scholar
  17. Buschinger, A., 1989. Evolution, speciation, and inbreeding in the parasitic ant genusEpimyrma (Hymenoptera, Formicidae).J. Evol. Biol. 2:265–283.Google Scholar
  18. Buschinger, A., 1993. Rätselhafte Narben auf Ameisenlarven.Ameisenschutz aktuell 7:54–56.Google Scholar
  19. Buschinger, A. and T. M. Alloway, 1977. Population structure and polymorphism in the slave-making antHarpagoxenus americanus (Emery) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Psyche 83:233–242.Google Scholar
  20. Buschinger, A. and T. M. Alloway, 1978. Caste polymorphism inHarpagoxenus canadensis M. R. Smith (Hym., Formicidae).Ins. Soc. 25:339–350.Google Scholar
  21. Buschinger, A. and A. Francoeur, 1983. The guest ant,Symmyrmica chamberlini, rediscovered near Salt Lake City, Utah (Hymenoptera, Formicidae).Psyche 90:297–305.Google Scholar
  22. Buschinger, A. and U. Winter, 1976. Funktionelle Monogynie bei der GastameiseFormicoxenus nitidulus (Nyl.) (Hym., Form.).Ins. Soc. 23:549–558.Google Scholar
  23. Buschinger, A. and U. Winter, 1978. Echte Arbeiterinnen, fertile Arbeiterinnen und sterile Wirtsweibchen in Völkern der dulotischen AmeiseHarpagoxenus sublaevis (Nyl.) (Hym., Form.).Ins. Soc. 25:63–78.Google Scholar
  24. Buschinger, A., A. Francoeur and K. Fischer, 1980. Functional monogyny, sexual behavior, and karyotype of the guest ant,Leptothorax provancheri Emery (Hymenoptera, Formicidae).Psyche 87:1–12.Google Scholar
  25. Buschinger, A., K. Jessen and H. Cagniant, 1990. The life history ofEpimyrma algeriana, a slavemaking ant with facultative polygyny (Hymenoptera, Formicidae).Zool. Beitr. N. F. 33:23–49.Google Scholar
  26. Choe, J. C., 1988. Worker reproduction and social evolution in ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). In:Advances in myrmecology (J. C. Trager, Ed.), E. J. Brill, Leiden, pp. 163–187.Google Scholar
  27. Cole, B. J., 1981. Dominance hierarchies inLeptothorax ants.Science 212:83–84.Google Scholar
  28. Dejean, A. and L. Passera, 1974. Ponte des ouvrières et inhibition royale chez la fourmiTemno-thorax recedens (Nyl.) (Formicidae, Myrmicinae).Ins. Soc. 21:343–355.Google Scholar
  29. Francoeur, A., R. Loiselle and A. Buschinger, 1985. Biosystématique de la tribu Leptothoracini (Formicidae, Hymenoptera). 1. Le genreFormicoxenus dans la région holarctique.Naturaliste can. 112:343–403.Google Scholar
  30. Franks, N. R. and T. Scovell, 1983. Dominance and reproductive success among slave-making worker ants.Nature 304:724–725.Google Scholar
  31. Heinze, J., 1991. Biochemical studies on the relationship between socially parasitic ants and their hosts.Biochem. Syst. Ecol 19:195–206.Google Scholar
  32. Heinze, J., 1996. Reproductive hierarchies among workers of the slave-making ant,Chalepoxenus muellerianus.Ethology 102:117–127.Google Scholar
  33. Heinze, J. and A. Buschinger, 1988. Electrophoretic variability of esterases in the ant tribe Leptothoracini.Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 16:217–221.Google Scholar
  34. Heinze, J. and A. Buschinger, 1989. Queen polymorphism inLeptothorax spec. A: its genetic and ecological background (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Ins. Soc. 36:139–155.Google Scholar
  35. Heinze, J., T. Gübitz, C. Errard, A. Lenoir and B. Hölldobler, 1993a. Reproductive competition and colony fragmentation in the guest-ant,Formicoxenus provancheri.Experientia 49:814–816.Google Scholar
  36. Heinze, J., S. Kühnholz, K. Schilder and B. Hölldobler, 1993b. Behavior of ergatoid males in the ant,Cardiocondyla nuda.Ins. Soc. 40:273–282.Google Scholar
  37. Heinze, J., B. Hölldobler and C. Peeters, 1994 a. Conflict and cooperation in ant societies.Naturwissenschaften 81:489–497.Google Scholar
  38. Heinze, J., D. Ortius, M. Kaib and B. Hölldobler, 1994b. Interspecific aggression in colonies of the slave-making antHarpagoxenus sublaevis.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 35:75–83.Google Scholar
  39. Heinze, J., B. Hölldobler and S. Trenkle, 1995. Reproductive behavior of the antLeptothorax (Dichothorax) pergandei.Ins. Soc. 42:309–315.Google Scholar
  40. Herbers, J. M., 1986. Ecological genetics of queen number inLeptothorax longispinosus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Entomol. gener. 11:119–123.Google Scholar
  41. Herbers, J. M. and S. Grieco, 1994. Population structure ofLeptothorax ambiguus, a facultatively polygynous and polydomous ant species.J. Evol. Biol. 7:581–598.Google Scholar
  42. Hölldobler, B. and E. O. Wilson, 1990.The Ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 732pp.Google Scholar
  43. Hung, A. C. F., 1973. Reproductive biology in dulotic ants: preliminary report (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Ent. News 84:253–259.Google Scholar
  44. Le Masne, G., 1970. Recherches sur la biologie des Fourmis parasites. Le comportement agressif des ouvrières deChalepoxenus.C. R. Acad. Sei. Paris, sér. D 217:1119–1121.Google Scholar
  45. Nonacs, P. and J. E. Tobin, 1992. Selfish larvae: development and the evolution of parasitic behavior in the Hymenoptera.Evolution 46:1605–1620.Google Scholar
  46. Ortius, D., 1993. Untersuchung zur sozialen Struktur unter den Sklaven in gemischten Kolonien vonHarpagoxenus sublaevis. Unpublished Diploma-thesis, Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg.Google Scholar
  47. Pamilo, P., 1991. Evolution of colony characteristics in social insects. II. Number of reproductive individuals.Am. Nat. 138:412–433.Google Scholar
  48. Pearson, B., A. F. Raybould and R. T. Clarke, 1995. Breeding behaviour, relatedness and sex-investment ratios inLeptothorax tuberum Fabricius.Entomol. Exp. Appl. 75:165–174.Google Scholar
  49. Plateaux, L., 1970. Sur le polymorphisme social de la fourmiLeptothorax nylanderi (Förster). 1. Morphologie et biologie comparées des castes.Ann. sci. nat. zool. biol. anim., 12 e série,12:373–478.Google Scholar
  50. Plateaux, L., 1979. Polymorphisme ovarien des reines de fourmisLeptothorax, variations interspécifiques, infériorité d'hybrides interspécifiques.Arch. zool. exp. gén. 120:381–398.Google Scholar
  51. Plateaux, L., 1981. Thepallens morph of the antLeptothorax nylanderi: description, formal genetics, and study populations. In:Biosystematics of Social Insects (P. E. Howse and J.-L. Clément, Eds.). Academic Press, London, pp. 63–74.Google Scholar
  52. Puchinger, W., 1995. Arbeiterinnenhierarchien in Kolonien der AmeisengattungLeptothorax. Unpublished Diploma-thesis, Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg.Google Scholar
  53. Ratnieks, F. L. W. and H. K. Reeve, 1992. Conflict in single-queen Hymenopteran societies: the structure of conflict and processes that reduce conflict in advanced eusocial species.J. Theor. Biol. 158:33–65.Google Scholar
  54. Seger, J., 1991. Cooperation and conflicts in social insects. In:Behavioral Ecology (J. R. Krebs and N. B. Davies, Eds.), 3rd ed., Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 338–373.Google Scholar
  55. Stille, M., B. Stille and P. Douwes, 1991. Polygny, relatedness and nestfounding in the polygynous myrmicine antLeptothorax acervorum (Hymenoptera, Formicidae).Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 28:91–96.Google Scholar
  56. Stuart, R. J. and T. M. Alloway, 1985. Behavioural evolution and domestic degeneration in obligatory slave-making ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Leptothoracini).Anim. Behav. 33:1080–1088.Google Scholar
  57. Sundström, L., 1994. Split sex ratios inFormica ants induced by variable queen mating frequencies.Nature 367:266–268.Google Scholar
  58. Trivers, R. L. and H. Hare, 1976. Haplodiploidy and the evolution of the social insects.Science 191:249–263.Google Scholar
  59. Wilson, E. O., 1975.Leptothorax duloticus and the beginnings of slavery in ants.Evolution 29:108–119.Google Scholar
  60. Winter, U. and A. Buschinger, 1983. The reproductive biology of a slave-maker ant,Epimyrma ravouxi, and a degenerate slave-maker,E. kraussei (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).Entomol. gener. 9:1–15.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Heinze
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl Verhaltensphysiologie und SoziobiologieTheodor-Boveri-Institut (Biozentrum der Universität)Am HublandGermany

Personalised recommendations