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Ecological determinants of queen number in the ant Dontomachus hastatus

Grant number: 10/52388-4
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: January 01, 2011 - December 31, 2012
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Animal Behavior
Convênio/Acordo: CNRS
Principal Investigator:Paulo Sergio Moreira Carvalho de Oliveira
Grantee:Paulo Sergio Moreira Carvalho de Oliveira
Principal researcher abroad: Jérôme Olivel
Institution abroad: ParisTech, France
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Multiple-queen (polygyny) colonies are common in social insects, especially in ants. Although the existence of polygyny challenges evolutionary theory, little is known on the selection pressures that might cause its evolution and maintenance in a population. The aim of our project is to elucidate the ecological factors regulating polygyny in the ant Odontomachus hastatus (Ponerinae), a species characterized by intraspecific plasticity in the number of queens. We will compare monogynous and polygynous populations living in two different habitats: French Guiana and Brazil (Cardoso Island). We will combine field studies and laboratory work to identify the ecological constraints leading to the expression of polygyny. In addition, we will evaluate the impact of polygyny on the social and spatial organization of queens and workers inside the nest. This project should provide valuable insights into the proximal mechanisms leading to the recurrent evolution of polygyny in ants. (AU)

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