Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 209–223 | Cite as

Resource allocation, brood production and cannibalism during colony founding in the fire ant,Solenopsis invicta

  • Walter R. Tschinkel
Article

Summary

The colony founding characteristics of newly mated fire ant queens from monogyne colonies were studied in the field and in the laboratory under haplo- and pleometrotic conditions. Initial queen weight (live) was not correlated with subsequent progeny production. During founding, queens lost a mean of 54% of their lean weight, 73% of their fat weight and 67% of their energy content. The percentage of fat decreased from 44% to 33%. Queens lost weight or energy in relation to the amount of progeny they produced (Figs. 1, 2). The efficiency of the conversion of queen to progeny increased as more progeny were produced, leading to a decline in the unit cost of progeny (Fig. 3). The more minims a queen produced, the lower the mean weight of these minims and the faster they developed (Fig. 4). In a field experiment on pleometrotic founding, total brood increased with queen number, peaked between four and seven queens and declined with 10 queens (Fig. 5). Brood developed faster at the sunny, warmer site, but total production and queen survival was higher at the shady site. As queen density increased, production per queen decreased as a negative exponential in which the exponent estimated sensitivity of brood production to queen-crowding and the constant estimated the production by solo queens (Fig. 9). These effects of queen number were confirmed in laboratory experiments. The decrease of production per queen was small and not always detectable during the egg-laying phase, but brood attrition was always strong during the larval period and increased with queen number (Figs. 8, 10). While airborne factors may have contributed to this inhibition, most of the brood reduction was due to other causes, probably cannibalism. For a given number of minims, increased queen number increased the mean weight of these minims, an effect that resulted both from a lower minim production per queen and from cannibalism of dead queens by survivors (Fig. 11). Cannibal queens lost much less weight to produce a given number of minims than unfed control queens, and these minims were heavier (Fig. 12).

Key words

Pleometrosis Formicidae Worker size Cannibalism Haplometrosis Colony development 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter R. Tschinkel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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