Low queen mating frequency in the seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex (Ephebomyrmex) pima: implications for the evolution of polyandry
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- Holbrook, C.T., Strehl, CP., Johnson, R.A. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2007) 62: 229. doi:10.1007/s00265-007-0457-4
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The evolution of polyandry is a central problem in the study of insect mating systems, and both material and genetic benefits have been proposed to offset the presumed costs of multiple mating. Although most eusocial Hymenoptera queens mate with just one or occasionally two males, high levels of polyandry are exhibited by several taxa, including seed-harvester ants of the genus Pogonomyrmex. Previous studies of queen mating frequency in Pogonomyrmex have focused on monogynous (one queen per colony) species in the subgenus Pogonomyrmex. We performed a genetic mother–offspring analysis of mating frequency in Pogonomyrmex (Ephebomyrmex) pima, a queen-dimorphic species with dealate and intermorph queens that differ in colony structure (intermorph colonies contain multiple queens). Our results demonstrate that both dealate and intermorph queens of P. (E.) pima are typically single maters, unlike their congeners analyzed thus far. Polyandry appears to be a derived trait in Pogonomyrmex, but comparative tests between P. (E.) pima queen morphs and across the genus provide no evidence that it evolved as an adaptation to increase genetic diversity within colonies or to obtain more sperm, respectively.