Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 87–98 | Cite as

Experimental manipulation of colony genetic diversity had no effect on short-term task efficiency in the Argentine ant Linepithema humile

  • Hervé Rosset
  • Laurent Keller
  • Michel Chapuisat
Original Article


Genetic diversity might increase the performance of social groups by improving task efficiency or disease resistance, but direct experimental tests of these hypotheses are rare. We manipulated the level of genetic diversity in colonies of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile, and then recorded the short-term task efficiency of these experimental colonies. The efficiency of low and high genetic diversity colonies did not differ significantly for any of the following tasks: exploring a new territory, foraging, moving to a new nest site, or removing corpses. The tests were powerful enough to detect large effects, but may have failed to detect small differences. Indeed, observed effect sizes were generally small, except for the time to create a trail during nest emigration. In addition, genetic diversity had no statistically significant impact on the number of workers, males and females produced by the colony, but these tests had low power. Higher genetic diversity also did not result in lower variance in task efficiency and productivity. In contrast to genetic diversity, colony size was positively correlated with the efficiency at performing most tasks and with colony productivity. Altogether, these results suggest that genetic diversity does not strongly improve short-term task efficiency in L. humile, but that worker number is a key factor determining the success of this invasive species.


Division of labour Task efficiency Genetic diversity Social insects 



This research was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant 31-61934.00 to M.C. and several grants to L.K.). We thank Lotta Sundström and the anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hervé Rosset
    • 1
  • Laurent Keller
    • 1
  • Michel Chapuisat
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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