Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 527–533 | Cite as

Dual mechanism of queen influence over sex ratio in the ant Pheidole pallidula

  • Ludivine de Menten
  • Denis Fournier
  • Colin Brent
  • Luc Passera
  • Edward L. Vargo
  • Serge Aron
Original Article

Abstract

Social Hymenoptera are general models for the study of parent-offspring conflict over sex ratio, because queens and workers frequently have different reproductive optima. The ant Pheidole pallidula shows a split distribution of sex ratios with most of the colonies producing reproductives of a single sex. Sex ratio specialization is tightly associated with the breeding system, with single-queen (monogynous) colonies producing male-biased brood and multiple-queen (polygynous) colonies female-biased brood. Here, we show that this sex specialization is primarily determined by the queen’s influence over colony sex ratio. Queens from monogynous colonies produce a significantly more male-biased primary sex ratio than queens from polygynous colonies. Moreover, queens from monogynous colonies produce a significantly lower proportion of diploid eggs that develop into queens and this is associated with lower rate of juvenile hormone (JH) production compared to queens from polygynous colonies. These results indicate that queens regulate colony sex ratio in two complementary ways: by determining the proportion of female eggs laid and by hormonally biasing the development of female eggs into either a worker or reproductive form. This is the first time that such a dual system of queen influence over colony sex ratio is identified in an ant.

Keywords

Conflicts Juvenile hormone Kin selection Microsatellites Primary sex ratio Social hymenoptera Split sex ratio 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ludivine de Menten
    • 1
  • Denis Fournier
    • 1
  • Colin Brent
    • 2
  • Luc Passera
    • 3
  • Edward L. Vargo
    • 2
  • Serge Aron
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral and Evolutionary EcologyUniversité Libre de Bruxelles CP 160/12BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition AnimaleCNRS-Université Paul SabatierToulouseFrance

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