Both female castes contribute to colony emigration in the polygynous ant Mystrium oberthueri
Article first published online: 21 MAY 2013
© 2013 The Royal Entomological Society
Volume 38, Issue 4, pages 408–417, August 2013
How to Cite
BOUCHET, D. C., PEETERS, C., FISHER, B. L. and MOLET, M. (2013), Both female castes contribute to colony emigration in the polygynous ant Mystrium oberthueri. Ecological Entomology, 38: 408–417. doi: 10.1111/een.12033
- Issue published online: 11 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 21 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 13 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 8 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 23 OCT 2012
- dependent colony foundation;
- ergatoid queen;
- Mystrium oberthueri;
- nest relocation;
- Nest emigrations are perilous for social insect colonies. Outside their nests, adults and brood are exposed to dangers. The behavioural mechanisms of emigration are thus likely to be under strong selective pressures.
- Most studies on emigration have focused on monogynous species where survival of the queen is paramount, but emigration processes are largely unknown for species having several queens per colony.
- In colonies of Mystrium oberthueri Forel, members of the morphological queen caste are as numerous as workers, although only a few of them mate and reproduce (polygyny). All queens perform intranidal tasks, such as brood care. Accordingly, we expected them to participate actively in emigration and to be less well protected.
- Using four colonies, we studied the dynamics of 16 emigrations with a special focus on individual behavioural profile.
- Workers were more involved than non-reproductive queens in recruitment and brood transport. Reproductive queens and young ants preferentially walked directly to the new nest without carrying brood. A chemical trail was probably used. The physiological status of individuals had more impact on their behavioural profile than their morphological caste.
- This highly organized emigration process may underpin dependent colony foundation, as both involve the coordinated movement of nestmates.