Colony age, neighborhood density and reproductive potential in harvester ants

  • Wagner D
  • Gordon D
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Abstract

When neighbors compete for resources, the characteristics of a neighborhood may affect fitness. We examined the relationship between reproductive success and the density and size/age characteristics of neighbors in a population of the seed-eating ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, in which the ages of all colonies were known. Reproductive success was estimated by trapping and counting the number of alate, reproductive ants emerg- ing from the nest for the annual mating flight. Alate production was negatively related to neighborhood density. Decreased production of alates by more crowded colonies may be due to competition for food with surrounding colonies. Neighbor size/age was un- related to alate production. If alate production is cor- related with lifetime reproductive success, these results suggest that selection favors colonies that monopolize more space, whatever the size of neighboring colonies.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Body fat
  • Body mass
  • Harvester ants
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Life history

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Authors

  • Diane Wagner

  • Deborah M. Gordon

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