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Keywords:

  • gene flow;
  • microsatellites;
  • monogyny;
  • mtDNA;
  • polygyny;
  • split sex ratio theory;
  • sympatry

Abstract

We studied genetic differentiation between two social forms (M-type: single queen, independent nest founding; P-type: multiple queens, dependent nest founding, building of colonial networks) of the ant Formica truncorum in a locality where the social types characterize two sympatric populations. The genetic results indicate restricted gene flow between the social forms. Female gene flow between the forms appears to be absent as they did not share mitochondrial haplotypes. Significant nuclear differentiation and the distribution of private alleles suggest that male gene flow between the forms is weak. However, the assignment analysis indicates some gene flow with P males mating with M females. The results have potentially important implications concerning social evolution within the forms but they need to be confirmed in other localities before they can be generalized. The colonies in the M-type population have earlier been shown to produce split sex ratios, depending on the mating frequency of the queens. The inferred gene flow from the P to the M type means that the split sex ratio is partly suboptimal, possibly because the P populations are not long-lived enough to influence the behavioural decisions in the M colonies.