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Keywords:

  • ants;
  • budding;
  • mating frequency;
  • outbreeding;
  • polygyny;
  • population viscosity

Abstract

Gnamptogenys striatula is a polygynous ponerine ant, whose colonies contain either several differentiated queens or several gamergates. Population structure, queen mating frequency and deviation from random mating were investigated in a north-eastern Brazilian population. Eight workers from each of 33 queenright colonies and 17 queens and their progeny (20–40 offspring) were genotyped using eight variable microsatellite markers. Population differentiation tests indicated limited gene flow at the scale of several kilometres, and tests of isolation by distance revealed population viscosity at the scale of a few metres. This population structure, together with the frequent colony migrations and fissions observed in the field, suggest that new nests are founded by budding in G. striatula. Genetic data showed that 13 of our 17 queens were single-mated and four were double-mated. The estimation of the range of maximal frequency of double-mated queens in the population was 0.232–0.259, demonstrating that mating frequency is low in G. striatula. The low estimated mean relatedness between the 17 queens and their mates (−0.04 ± 0.49) indicated no evidence of inbreeding in G. striatula.