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Dominance orders in the ponerine ant Pachycondyla apicalis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

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Summary

Intracolony aggression among workers of the neotropical ponerine ant species Pachycondyla apicalis leads to dominance orders. Antagonistic interactions can entail either overt physical attacks with the subordinate individual often exhibiting a submissive posture or the robbing and destruction of eggs laid by nestmates. The single queen, however, was never observed either attacking or being attacked by any colony member. The hierarchical structure among workers consists of one dominant individual and several subordinates; the relationships among subordinate workers are unclear, however. We report for the first time a natural (nonmanipulated) change in the social status of individuals within an ant dominance order. Dominant workers usually had better developed ovaries, laid more eggs and were more frequently observed attending the egg pile than subordinate individuals. This pattern became even more striking when the queen was excluded from the colony. These results indicate that workers of P. apicalis lay eggs even in the presence of the queen. It is possible that some of these haploid eggs may develop into males.

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Oliveira, P.S., Holldobler, B. Dominance orders in the ponerine ant Pachycondyla apicalis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 27, 385–393 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00164064

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