Eur. J. Entomol. 114: 230-234, 2017 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2017.028

Acceptance of alien queens by the ruby ant Myrmica rubra (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Gene flow by queen flow

Jouni SORVARI1,2
1 Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland; e-mail: jouni.sorvari@uef.fi
2 Department of Biology, Section of Ecology, FI-20014 University of Turku, Finland

Social insect colonies, especially of ants, often include several egg-laying queens that are not always closely related to each other. At least in some cases, the ants seem to accept non-related queens into their colonies. Here I test whether the colony queen status (with or without a queen), genetic and geographic differences between source and recipient nests and the average relatedness of the workers in the recipient colony affect the acceptance of alien queens. I used field collected ruby ant Myrmica rubra colonies as a model system. Only the queen status significantly affected the acceptance process. Colonies without queens accepted alien queens more frequently than colonies with a queen. The nests without queens and nest fragments may act as vectors for gene flow by the movement of queens between nests, i.e., queen flow.

Keywords: Hymenoptera, Formicidae, ants, Myrmica rubra, isolation by distance, polygyny, relatedness, social insects

Received: November 28, 2016; Accepted: March 27, 2017; Published online: April 18, 2017

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