Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 215–221 | Cite as

Division of labour and worker size polymorphism in ant colonies: the impact of social and genetic factors

Original Article

Abstract

Division of labour among workers is central to the organisation and ecological success of insect societies. If there is a genetic component to worker size, morphology or task preference, an increase in colony genetic diversity arising from the presence of multiple breeders per colony might improve division of labour. We studied the genetic basis of worker size and task preference in Formica selysi, an ant species that shows natural variation in the number of mates per queen and the number of queens per colony. Worker size had a heritable component in colonies headed by a doubly mated queen (h2=0.26) and differed significantly among matrilines in multiple-queen colonies. However, higher levels of genetic diversity did not result in more polymorphic workers across single- or multiple-queen colonies. In addition, workers from multiple-queen colonies were consistently smaller and less polymorphic than workers from single-queen colonies. The relationship between task, body size and genetic lineage appeared to be complex. Foragers were significantly larger than brood-tenders, which may provide energetic or ergonomic advantages to the colony. Task specialisation was also often associated with genetic lineage. However, genetic lineage and body size were often correlated with task independently of each other, suggesting that the allocation of workers to tasks is modulated by multiple factors. Overall, these results indicate that an increase in colony genetic diversity does not increase worker size polymorphism but might improve colony homeostasis.

Keywords

Size polymorphism Heritability Polyethism Social insects Formica selysi 

References

  1. Bargum K, Boomsma JJ, Sundström L (2004) A genetic component to size in queens of the ant, Formica truncorum. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 57:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Becker WA (1992) Manual of quantitative genetics., 5th edn. Academic Enterprises, Pullman, WAGoogle Scholar
  3. Beshers SN, Fewell JH (2001) Models of division of labor in social insects. Annu Rev Entomol 46:413–440CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourke AFG, Franks NR (1995) Social evolution in ants. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  5. Bürger R, Gimelfarb A (2002) Fluctuating environments and the role of mutation in maintaining quantitative genetic variation. Genet Res 80:31–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapuisat M (1996) Characterization of microsatellite loci in Formica lugubris B and their variability in other ant species. Mol Ecol 5:599–601CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Chapuisat M, Bocherens S, Rosset H (2004) Variable queen number in ant colonies: no impact on queen turnover, inbreeding, and population genetic differentiation in the ant Formica selysi. Evolution 58:1064–1072PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Costa JT, Ross KG (2003) Fitness effects of group merging in a social insect. Proc R Soc Lond B 270:1697–1702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crozier RH, Page RE (1985) On being the right size: male contributions and multiple mating in social Hymenoptera. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 18:105–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Franks NR (1985) Reproduction, foraging efficiency and worker polymorphism in army ants. In: Lindauer M, Hölldobler B (eds) Experimental behavioral ecology and sociobiology. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, pp 91–107Google Scholar
  11. Fraser VS, Kaufmann B, Oldroyd BP, Crozier RH (2000) Genetic influence on caste in the ant Camponotus consobrinus. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 47:188–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goodisman M, Ross KG (1996) Relationship of queen number and worker size in polygyne colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Ins Soc 43:303–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Goodisman MAD, Crozier RH (2003) Association between caste and genotype in the termite Mastotermes darwiniensis Froggatt (Isoptera : Mastotermitidae). Aust J Entomol 42:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Greenberg L, Fletcher DJC, Vinson SB (1985) Differences in worker size and mound distribution in monogynous and polygynous colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren. J Kans Entomol Soc 58:9–18Google Scholar
  15. Gyllenstrand N, Gertsch PJ, Pamilo P (2002) Polymorphic microsatellite DNA markers in the ant Formica exsecta. Mol Ecol Notes 2:67–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hölldobler B, Wilson EO (1990) The ants. Springer-Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  17. Hughes WOH, Sumner S, van Borm S, Boomsma JJ (2003) Worker caste polymorphism has a genetic basis in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:9394–9397CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Jones JC, Myerscough MR, Graham S, Oldroyd BP (2004) Honey bee nest thermoregulation: diversity promotes stability. Science 305:402–404CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Julian GE, Fewell JH (2004) Genetic variation and task specialisation in the desert leaf-cutter ant, Acromyrmex versicolor. Anim Behav 68:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liu FH, Smith SM (2000) Estimating quantitative genetic parameters in haplodiploid organisms. Heredity 85:373–382CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Manly BFJ (1997) Randomization, bootstrap and Monte Carlo methods in biology, 2nd edn. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Oster GF, Wilson EO (1978) Caste and ecology in the social insects. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  23. Page RE, Erber J (2002) Levels of behavioral organization and the evolution of division of labor. Naturwissenschaften 89:91–106CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Page RE, Robinson GE, Fondrk MK, Nasr ME (1995) Effects of worker genotypic diversity on honey bee colony development and behavior (Apis mellifera L.). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 36:387–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pisarski B (1981) Intraspecific variations in ants of the genus Formica. In: Howse PE, Clement J-L (eds) Biosystematics of social insects. Academic Press, London and New York, pp 17–25Google Scholar
  26. Porter SD, Tschinkel WR (1985a) Fire ant polymorphism (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): factors affecting worker size. Ann Entomol Soc Am 78:381–386Google Scholar
  27. Porter SD, Tschinkel WR (1985b) Fire ant polymorphism: the ergonomics of brood production. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 16:323–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Robinson GE (1992) Regulation of division of labor in insect societies. Annu Rev Entomol 37:637–665PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rüppell O, Heinze J, Holldobler B (2001) Complex determination of queen body size in the queen size dimorphic ant Leptothorax rugatulus (Formicidae : Hymenoptera). Heredity 87:33–40CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Snyder LE (1992) The genetics of social behavior in a polygynous ant. Naturwissenschaften 79:525–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sokal RR, Braumann CA (1980) Significance tests for coefficients of variation and variability profiles. Syst Zool 29:50–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry. The principles and practice of statistics in biological research, 3rd edn. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Stuart RJ, Page RE (1991) Genetic component to division of labor among workers of a leptothoracine ant. Naturwissenschaften 78:375–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sundström L (1995) Sex allocation and colony maintenance in monogyne and polygyne colonies of Formica truncorum (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): the impact of kinship and mating structure. Am Nat 146:182–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Turelli M, Barton NH (2004) Polygenic variation maintained by balancing selection: pleiotropy, sex-dependent allelic effects and GxE interactions. Genetics 166:1053–1079CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang JL (2004) Sibship reconstruction from genetic data with typing errors. Genetics 166:1963–1979CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Waser NM (1998) Task-matching and short-term size shifts in foragers of the harvester ant, Messor pergandei (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J Insect Behav 11:451–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wetterer JK (1999) The ecology and evolution of worker size-distribution in leaf-cutting ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 34:119–144Google Scholar
  39. Wheeler DE (1991) The developmental basis of worker caste polymorphism in ants. Am Nat 138:1218–1238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wilson EO (1968) The ergonomics of caste in the social insects. Am Nat 102:41–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wilson EO (1971) The insect societies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  42. Wilson EO (1976) Behavioral discretization and the number of castes in an ant species. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 1:141–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wilson EO (1980) Caste and division of labor in leaf-cutter ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Atta). II. The ergonomic optimization of leaf cutting Atta sexdens. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 7:157–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanja Schwander
    • 1
  • Hervé Rosset
    • 1
  • Michel Chapuisat
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biology BuildingUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations