Size and asymmetry: are there costs to winning the royalty race?
Article first published online: 13 JAN 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2012 European Society For Evolutionary Biology
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 25, Issue 3, pages 522–531, March 2012
How to Cite
MITCHELL, R. E., FROST, C. L. and HUGHES, W. O. H. (2012), Size and asymmetry: are there costs to winning the royalty race?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25: 522–531. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02444.x
- Issue published online: 13 FEB 2012
- Article first published online: 13 JAN 2012
- Received 15 June 2011; accepted 1 December 2011
- body size;
- caste determination;
- fluctuating asymmetry;
- social insect
Body size and morphology are key fitness-determining traits that can vary genotypically. They are likely to be important in social insect queens, which mate in swarms and found colonies independently, but genetic influences on queen morphology have been little investigated. Here, we show that the body size and morphology of queens are influenced by their genotype in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior, a species in which certain lineages (patrilines) bias their development towards reproductive queens rather than sterile workers. We found no relationship between the queen-worker skew of patrilines and the size or morphology of queens, but there was a significant relationship with fluctuating asymmetry, which was greater in more queen-biased patrilines. Our results suggest that queen-biased patrilines do not incur a fitness cost in terms of body size, but may face more subtle costs in developmental stability. Such costs may constrain the evolution of royal cheating in social insects.