Ecological drivers and reproductive consequences of non-kin cooperation by ant queens

Brian R. Haney, Jennifer Fewell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The fitness consequences of joining a group are highly dependent on ecological context, especially for non-kin. To assess the relationships between cooperation and environment, we examined variation in colony reproductive success for a harvester ant species that nests either solitarily or with multiple, unrelated queens, a social strategy known as primary polygyny. We measured the reproductive investment of colonies of solitary versus social nesting types at two sites, one with primarily single-queen colonies, and the other with a majority of polygynous nests. Our results were consistent with the hypothesis that cooperative nesting by unrelated ant queens is likely a selection response to difficult environments, rather than a strategy to maximize reproduction under favorable conditions. Fewer colonies at the primarily polygynous site reproduced than at the site with primarily single queen nests, and those that did had lower reproductive investment, as measured by number and total mass of reproductives. Assessment of ecological conditions also support the harsh environment hypothesis. Colony density in the multi-queen population was higher, and nearest neighbor distances were lower for non-reproducing than reproducing colonies. To more directly test the hypothesis that colony reproduction was ecologically constrained, we experimentally supplemented food resources for a subset of colonies at the primary polygyny site. Supplemented colonies increased reproductive investment levels to equal that of colonies at the single-queen population, further indicating that environmental pressures are severe where primary polygyny is dominant, and may drive the evolution of non-kin cooperation in this context.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalOecologia
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - Apr 24 2018

    Fingerprint

    queen insects
    ant
    polygyny
    nests
    nest
    selection response
    cooperatives
    co-operation
    reproductive success
    fitness
    testing
    food
    resource

    Keywords

    • Ant foundress associations
    • Intergroup competition
    • Non-kin cooperation
    • Reproductive investment
    • Social selection

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

    Cite this

    Ecological drivers and reproductive consequences of non-kin cooperation by ant queens. / Haney, Brian R.; Fewell, Jennifer.

    In: Oecologia, 24.04.2018, p. 1-13.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    @article{4d26954c4d3048a68d4dca2509627558,
    title = "Ecological drivers and reproductive consequences of non-kin cooperation by ant queens",
    abstract = "The fitness consequences of joining a group are highly dependent on ecological context, especially for non-kin. To assess the relationships between cooperation and environment, we examined variation in colony reproductive success for a harvester ant species that nests either solitarily or with multiple, unrelated queens, a social strategy known as primary polygyny. We measured the reproductive investment of colonies of solitary versus social nesting types at two sites, one with primarily single-queen colonies, and the other with a majority of polygynous nests. Our results were consistent with the hypothesis that cooperative nesting by unrelated ant queens is likely a selection response to difficult environments, rather than a strategy to maximize reproduction under favorable conditions. Fewer colonies at the primarily polygynous site reproduced than at the site with primarily single queen nests, and those that did had lower reproductive investment, as measured by number and total mass of reproductives. Assessment of ecological conditions also support the harsh environment hypothesis. Colony density in the multi-queen population was higher, and nearest neighbor distances were lower for non-reproducing than reproducing colonies. To more directly test the hypothesis that colony reproduction was ecologically constrained, we experimentally supplemented food resources for a subset of colonies at the primary polygyny site. Supplemented colonies increased reproductive investment levels to equal that of colonies at the single-queen population, further indicating that environmental pressures are severe where primary polygyny is dominant, and may drive the evolution of non-kin cooperation in this context.",
    keywords = "Ant foundress associations, Intergroup competition, Non-kin cooperation, Reproductive investment, Social selection",
    author = "Haney, {Brian R.} and Jennifer Fewell",
    year = "2018",
    month = "4",
    day = "24",
    doi = "10.1007/s00442-018-4148-9",
    language = "English (US)",
    pages = "1--13",
    journal = "Oecologia",
    issn = "0029-8519",
    publisher = "Springer Verlag",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Ecological drivers and reproductive consequences of non-kin cooperation by ant queens

    AU - Haney, Brian R.

    AU - Fewell, Jennifer

    PY - 2018/4/24

    Y1 - 2018/4/24

    N2 - The fitness consequences of joining a group are highly dependent on ecological context, especially for non-kin. To assess the relationships between cooperation and environment, we examined variation in colony reproductive success for a harvester ant species that nests either solitarily or with multiple, unrelated queens, a social strategy known as primary polygyny. We measured the reproductive investment of colonies of solitary versus social nesting types at two sites, one with primarily single-queen colonies, and the other with a majority of polygynous nests. Our results were consistent with the hypothesis that cooperative nesting by unrelated ant queens is likely a selection response to difficult environments, rather than a strategy to maximize reproduction under favorable conditions. Fewer colonies at the primarily polygynous site reproduced than at the site with primarily single queen nests, and those that did had lower reproductive investment, as measured by number and total mass of reproductives. Assessment of ecological conditions also support the harsh environment hypothesis. Colony density in the multi-queen population was higher, and nearest neighbor distances were lower for non-reproducing than reproducing colonies. To more directly test the hypothesis that colony reproduction was ecologically constrained, we experimentally supplemented food resources for a subset of colonies at the primary polygyny site. Supplemented colonies increased reproductive investment levels to equal that of colonies at the single-queen population, further indicating that environmental pressures are severe where primary polygyny is dominant, and may drive the evolution of non-kin cooperation in this context.

    AB - The fitness consequences of joining a group are highly dependent on ecological context, especially for non-kin. To assess the relationships between cooperation and environment, we examined variation in colony reproductive success for a harvester ant species that nests either solitarily or with multiple, unrelated queens, a social strategy known as primary polygyny. We measured the reproductive investment of colonies of solitary versus social nesting types at two sites, one with primarily single-queen colonies, and the other with a majority of polygynous nests. Our results were consistent with the hypothesis that cooperative nesting by unrelated ant queens is likely a selection response to difficult environments, rather than a strategy to maximize reproduction under favorable conditions. Fewer colonies at the primarily polygynous site reproduced than at the site with primarily single queen nests, and those that did had lower reproductive investment, as measured by number and total mass of reproductives. Assessment of ecological conditions also support the harsh environment hypothesis. Colony density in the multi-queen population was higher, and nearest neighbor distances were lower for non-reproducing than reproducing colonies. To more directly test the hypothesis that colony reproduction was ecologically constrained, we experimentally supplemented food resources for a subset of colonies at the primary polygyny site. Supplemented colonies increased reproductive investment levels to equal that of colonies at the single-queen population, further indicating that environmental pressures are severe where primary polygyny is dominant, and may drive the evolution of non-kin cooperation in this context.

    KW - Ant foundress associations

    KW - Intergroup competition

    KW - Non-kin cooperation

    KW - Reproductive investment

    KW - Social selection

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85045958833&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85045958833&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1007/s00442-018-4148-9

    DO - 10.1007/s00442-018-4148-9

    M3 - Article

    SP - 1

    EP - 13

    JO - Oecologia

    JF - Oecologia

    SN - 0029-8519

    ER -