Fecundity and the Behavioural Profile of Reproductive Workers in the Queenless Ant, Pachycondyla (= Ophthalmopone) berthoudi

Authors

  • Matthew F. Sledge,

    1. Communication Biology Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and CNRS URA 667, Laboratoire d’Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée, Université Paris Nord, Villetaneuse
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  • Christian Peeters,

    1. Communication Biology Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and CNRS URA 667, Laboratoire d’Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée, Université Paris Nord, Villetaneuse
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  • Robin M. Crewe

    1. Communication Biology Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and CNRS URA 667, Laboratoire d’Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée, Université Paris Nord, Villetaneuse
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Corresponding author: M. F. Sledge, Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica, Università di Firenze, Via Romana 17, I-50125, Florence, Italy. E-mail: msledge@dbag.unifi.it

Abstract

Morphologically specialized queens are absent in Pachycondyla (= Ophthalmopone) berthoudi (ant subfamily Ponerinae). Instead, several of the workers mate and reproduce (gamergates). Gamergate proportion in nests commonly varies between nests and different times of the year. Individual fecundity of gamergates varies according to the number of these individuals in a nest, and we examined their behaviour in relation to fecundity in nests with different proportions of gamergates. In nests with high proportions of gamergates, they exhibited a diversity of behaviours inside the nest and in some cases could not be distinguished behaviourally from sterile workers. The fecundity of these gamergates was low and variable. In nests with low proportions, gamergates were relatively more fecund, and did not participate in colony labour. The behavioural profile of gamergates is therefore linked to their reproductive physiology, which is influenced by the number of mated individuals in the nest.

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