Coevolution between slave-making ants and their hosts: host specificity and geographical variation

Authors

  • R. Blatrix,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
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  • J. M. Herbers

    1. Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
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    • Present address: College of Biological Sciences, Ohio State University, 484 W 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Rumsaïs Blatrix. *Present address: LEEC, Université Paris 13, 99 Avenue J.-B. Clément, 93430 Villetaneuse, France. Fax: + 33 1 49 40 39 75; E-mail: blatrix@leec.univ-paris13.fr

Abstract

We explored the impact of a slave-making ant, Protomognathus americanus, on two of its hosts, Leptothorax longispinosus and L. ambiguus. We showed that, on average, slave-maker colonies conduct raids on 2.7 L. longispinosus and 1.4 L. ambiguus nests in a single year. The more common host, L. longispinosus, survives raiding and colony-founding events in a third of the cases, but the less common host rarely survives attacks from the slave-makers. We compare our results, collected in Vermont, to a study conducted in New York where the slave-maker pressure is much stronger. Our results suggest that in Vermont the slave-maker has a sparing strategy when raiding L. longispinosus, but not when raiding L. ambiguus. Thus coevolution between slave-making ants and their hosts shows host specificity and geographical variation.

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