Reproductive conflicts in polyandrous and polygynous ant Formica sanguinea



The occurrence of multiple reproductives within an ant colony changes the balance between indirect fitness benefits and reproductive competition. We test whether the number of matings by an ant queen (polyandry) correlates negatively with the number of reproductive queens in the colony (polygyny), whether the patrilines and matrilines differ in their contribution to the sexual and worker progeny and whether there is an overall reproductive skew. For these aims, we genotyped both worker and sexual offspring from colonies of the ant Formica sanguinea in three populations. Most colonies were monogynous, but eight (11%) were polygynous with closely related queens. Most queens in the monogynous colonies (86%) had mated with multiple males. The effective paternity was lower than the actual number of mates, and the paternity skew was significant. Furthermore, in some monogynous colonies, the patrilines were differently represented in the worker pupae and sexual pupae produced at the same time. Likewise, the matrilines in polygynous colonies were differently present in worker pupae and male offspring. The effective number of matings by a queen was significantly lower in polygynous colonies (mean me = 1.68) than in monogynous colonies (means 2.06–2.61). The results give support to the hypotheses that polyandry and polygyny are alternative breeding strategies and that reproductive competition can lead to different representation of patrilines and matrilines among the sexual and worker broods.