Sociobiology of slave-making ants


Social parasitism is the coexistence in the same nest of two species of social insects, one of which is parasitically dependent on the other. Though parasitism in general is known to be of crucial importance in the evolution of host species, social parasites, though intriguing, are often considered as a phenomenon of marginal interest and are typically not taken into account in reviews on parasitism. Nevertheless, social parasites are rather common in social bees, wasps, and ants and therefore may offer unique model systems to study a number of fundamental problems in evolutionary biology. Here we review several aspects of the peculiar life history of slave-making ants, which is characterized by socially parasitic founding of colonies and the pillage of broods from neighboring host colonies during slave raids. In particular we focus on the evolution of slave-making habits (dulosis), communication mechanisms between slave makers and their hosts, sex-allocation ratios and reproductive conflict, and the effect of slave makers on host populations.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Author information



Additional information

Received: 2 February 2000 / Received in revised form: 21 December 2000 / Accepted: 8 January 2001

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

D’Ettorre, P., Heinze, J. Sociobiology of slave-making ants. acta ethol 3, 67–82 (2001).

Download citation

  • Keywords Dulosis
  • Parasitism
  • Reproductive tactics
  • Chemical communication
  • Coevolution