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Authors: Psalti, Marina N.
Gohlke, Dustin
Libbrecht, Romain
Title: Experimental increase of worker diversity benefits brood production in ants
Online publication date: 19-May-2022
Year of first publication: 2021
Language: english
Abstract: Background The reproductive division of labor of eusocial insects, whereby one or several queens monopolize reproduction, evolved in a context of high genetic relatedness. However, many extant eusocial species have developed strategies that decrease genetic relatedness in their colonies, suggesting some benefits of the increased diversity. Multiple studies support this hypothesis by showing positive correlations between genetic diversity and colony fitness, as well as finding effects of experimental manipulations of diversity on colony performance. However, alternative explanations could account for most of these reports, and the benefits of diversity on performance in eusocial insects still await validation. In this study, we experimentally increased worker diversity in small colonies of the ant Lasius niger while controlling for typical confounding factors. Results We found that experimental colonies composed of workers coming from three different source colonies produced more larvae and showed more variation in size compared to groups of workers coming from a single colony. Conclusions We propose that the benefits of increased diversity stemmed from an improved division of labor. Our study confirms that worker diversity enhances colony performance, thus providing a possible explanation for the evolution of multiply mated queens and multiple-queen colonies in many species of eusocial insects.
DDC: 570 Biowissenschaften
570 Life sciences
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 10 Biologie
Place: Mainz
Version: Published version
Publication type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz
License: CC BY
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Journal: BMC ecology and evolution
Pages or article number: 163
Publisher: BioMed Central
Publisher place: London
Issue date: 2021
ISSN: 2730-7182
Publisher DOI: 10.1186/s12862-021-01890-x
Appears in collections:JGU-Publikationen

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