Strict monandry in the ponerine army ant genus Simopelta suggests that colony size and complexity drive mating system evolution in social insects


Daniel J. C. Kronauer, E-mail:


Altruism in social insects has evolved between closely related full-siblings. It is therefore of considerable interest why some groups have secondarily evolved low within-colony relatedness, which in turn affects the relatedness incentives of within-colony cooperation and conflict. The highest queen mating frequencies, and therefore among the lowest degrees of colony relatedness, occur in Apis honeybees and army ants of the subfamilies Aenictinae, Ecitoninae, and Dorylinae, suggesting that common life history features such as reproduction by colony fission and male biased numerical sex-ratios have convergently shaped these mating systems. Here we show that ponerine army ants of the genus Simopelta, which are distantly related but similar in general biology to other army ants, have strictly monandrous queens. Preliminary data suggest that workers reproduce in queenright colonies, which is in sharp contrast to other army ants. We hypothesize that differences in mature colony size and social complexity may explain these striking discrepancies.