Oligogyny by unrelated queens in the carpenter ant, Camponotus ligniperdus

Jürgen Gadau, Pia J. Gertsch, Jürgen Heinze, Pekka Pamilo, Bert Hölldobler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Multilocus DNA fingerprinting and microsatellite analysis were used to determine the number of queens and their mating frequencies in colonies of the carpenter ant, Camponotus ligniperdus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Only 1 of 61 analyzed queens was found to be double-mated and the population-wide effective mating frequency was therefore 1.02. In the studied population, 8 of 21 mature field colonies (38%) contained worker, male, or virgin queen genotypes which were not compatible with presumed monogyny and therefore suggested oligogyny, i.e., the cooccurrence of several mutually intolerant queens within one colony. Estimated queen numbers in oligogynous colonies ranged between two and five. According to the results of the genetic analysis, most of the queens coexisting in oligogynous colonies were not closely related. Pleometrosis is very rare and queenless colonies adopt mated queens both in the laboratory and field. Therefore, the most plausible explanation for the origin of oligogynous colonies in C. ligniperdus is the adoption of unrelated queens by orphaned mature colonies. The coexistence of unrelated, but mutually intolerant queens in C. ligniperdus colonies demonstrates that oligogyny should be considered as a phenomenon distinct from polygyny.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Ants
  • Camponotus ligniperdus
  • DNA fingerprinting
  • Microsatellites
  • Oligogyny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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