Influence of the social context on division of labor in ant foundress associations

Raphaël Jeanson, Jennifer Fewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous studies indicate that division of labor can arise spontaneously in social groups. The comparison between normally social populations and forced associations of solitary individuals allows us to dissect the mechanisms by which tasks are distributed within a group and to ask how selection acts on division of labor during the incipient stages of sociality. In some ant species, newly mated queens form cooperative associations during nest initiation, in which individuals specialize on different tasks. The harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus shows geographical variation across populations in colony-founding strategies: solitary founding (haplometrosis) and group founding (pleometrosis). This system provides a unique opportunity to investigate how social context affects division of labor during social evolution. We created groups containing normally solitary, normally group founding, or mixed groups of solitary and social queens to examine how social phenotype affects division of labor. We also examined how group size affects task specialization by comparing pairs of queens with groups of 6 queens. Division of labor arose consistently across all associations. Groups of haplometrotic or pleometrotic queens differentiated into an excavation and a brood care specialist. In mixed groups, the haplometrotic queens took the role of excavator whereas the pleometrotic queens mainly tended brood. Our data also show that the intensity of specialization was greater in larger associations, consistent with current models of group size and division of labor. We discuss these data in the context of how emergence and selection act on the evolution of division of labor within incipient social groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-574
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

Fingerprint

polyethism
Ants
labor division
queen insects
ant
Formicidae
Population
group size
Pogonomyrmex californicus
Phenotype
colony founding
excavators
brood rearing
geographical variation
cooperatives
eclosion
phenotype
nest
excavation
nests

Keywords

  • Behavioral differentiation
  • Division of labor
  • Foundress associations
  • Pogonomyrmex californicus
  • Response threshold model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Influence of the social context on division of labor in ant foundress associations. / Jeanson, Raphaël; Fewell, Jennifer.

In: Behavioral Ecology, Vol. 19, No. 3, 2008, p. 567-574.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{9cf0ff164bd4475db8279cffa0ed23d0,
title = "Influence of the social context on division of labor in ant foundress associations",
abstract = "Previous studies indicate that division of labor can arise spontaneously in social groups. The comparison between normally social populations and forced associations of solitary individuals allows us to dissect the mechanisms by which tasks are distributed within a group and to ask how selection acts on division of labor during the incipient stages of sociality. In some ant species, newly mated queens form cooperative associations during nest initiation, in which individuals specialize on different tasks. The harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus shows geographical variation across populations in colony-founding strategies: solitary founding (haplometrosis) and group founding (pleometrosis). This system provides a unique opportunity to investigate how social context affects division of labor during social evolution. We created groups containing normally solitary, normally group founding, or mixed groups of solitary and social queens to examine how social phenotype affects division of labor. We also examined how group size affects task specialization by comparing pairs of queens with groups of 6 queens. Division of labor arose consistently across all associations. Groups of haplometrotic or pleometrotic queens differentiated into an excavation and a brood care specialist. In mixed groups, the haplometrotic queens took the role of excavator whereas the pleometrotic queens mainly tended brood. Our data also show that the intensity of specialization was greater in larger associations, consistent with current models of group size and division of labor. We discuss these data in the context of how emergence and selection act on the evolution of division of labor within incipient social groups.",
keywords = "Behavioral differentiation, Division of labor, Foundress associations, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Response threshold model",
author = "Rapha{\"e}l Jeanson and Jennifer Fewell",
year = "2008",
doi = "10.1093/beheco/arn018",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "19",
pages = "567--574",
journal = "Behavioral Ecology",
issn = "1045-2249",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Influence of the social context on division of labor in ant foundress associations

AU - Jeanson, Raphaël

AU - Fewell, Jennifer

PY - 2008

Y1 - 2008

N2 - Previous studies indicate that division of labor can arise spontaneously in social groups. The comparison between normally social populations and forced associations of solitary individuals allows us to dissect the mechanisms by which tasks are distributed within a group and to ask how selection acts on division of labor during the incipient stages of sociality. In some ant species, newly mated queens form cooperative associations during nest initiation, in which individuals specialize on different tasks. The harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus shows geographical variation across populations in colony-founding strategies: solitary founding (haplometrosis) and group founding (pleometrosis). This system provides a unique opportunity to investigate how social context affects division of labor during social evolution. We created groups containing normally solitary, normally group founding, or mixed groups of solitary and social queens to examine how social phenotype affects division of labor. We also examined how group size affects task specialization by comparing pairs of queens with groups of 6 queens. Division of labor arose consistently across all associations. Groups of haplometrotic or pleometrotic queens differentiated into an excavation and a brood care specialist. In mixed groups, the haplometrotic queens took the role of excavator whereas the pleometrotic queens mainly tended brood. Our data also show that the intensity of specialization was greater in larger associations, consistent with current models of group size and division of labor. We discuss these data in the context of how emergence and selection act on the evolution of division of labor within incipient social groups.

AB - Previous studies indicate that division of labor can arise spontaneously in social groups. The comparison between normally social populations and forced associations of solitary individuals allows us to dissect the mechanisms by which tasks are distributed within a group and to ask how selection acts on division of labor during the incipient stages of sociality. In some ant species, newly mated queens form cooperative associations during nest initiation, in which individuals specialize on different tasks. The harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus shows geographical variation across populations in colony-founding strategies: solitary founding (haplometrosis) and group founding (pleometrosis). This system provides a unique opportunity to investigate how social context affects division of labor during social evolution. We created groups containing normally solitary, normally group founding, or mixed groups of solitary and social queens to examine how social phenotype affects division of labor. We also examined how group size affects task specialization by comparing pairs of queens with groups of 6 queens. Division of labor arose consistently across all associations. Groups of haplometrotic or pleometrotic queens differentiated into an excavation and a brood care specialist. In mixed groups, the haplometrotic queens took the role of excavator whereas the pleometrotic queens mainly tended brood. Our data also show that the intensity of specialization was greater in larger associations, consistent with current models of group size and division of labor. We discuss these data in the context of how emergence and selection act on the evolution of division of labor within incipient social groups.

KW - Behavioral differentiation

KW - Division of labor

KW - Foundress associations

KW - Pogonomyrmex californicus

KW - Response threshold model

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=45349102665&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=45349102665&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/beheco/arn018

DO - 10.1093/beheco/arn018

M3 - Article

VL - 19

SP - 567

EP - 574

JO - Behavioral Ecology

JF - Behavioral Ecology

SN - 1045-2249

IS - 3

ER -