Reproductive phenologies in a diverse temperate ant fauna


Robert R. Dunn, Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University, E-mail:


Abstract 1. Ant nuptial flights are central to understanding ant life history and ecology but have been little studied. This study examined the timing of nuptial flights, the synchronicity of nuptial flights (as a potential index of mating strategy), and variation in nuptial flights with elevation and among years in a diverse temperate ant fauna.

2. Flights occurred throughout the year, but were concentrated in the beginning of summer and in early fall (autumn). Relative to the entire flight season, closely related species tended to be more likely than expected by chance to fly at similar times, perhaps because of phylogenetic constraints on life history evolution.

3. Flights were relatively synchronous within species for nearly all species considered, but synchronicity did not appear to be a robust estimate of overall mating strategy.

4. Overall patterns in nuptial flights among species and the timing of flights for individual species varied with elevation, but did not vary greatly among years.

5. Although this study is one of the most comprehensive on the reproductive flight phenologies of ants, much remains to be learned about the causes and consequences of such spatial and temporal variation in flight phenology.