Natal dispersal, mating patterns, and inbreeding in the ant formica exsecta
Vitikainen, Emma I.K.
University of Chicago Press
Copyright © 2015 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
Reason for embargo
Sex-biased dispersal and multiple mating may prevent or alleviate inbreeding and its outcome, inbreeding depression, but studies demonstrating this in the wild are scarce. Perennial ant colonies offer a unique system to investigate the relationships between natal dispersal behavior and inbreeding. Due to the sedentary life of ant colonies and lifetime sperm storage by queens, measures of dispersal distance and mating strategy are easier to obtain than in most taxa. We used a suite of molecular markers to infer the natal colonies of queens and males in a wild population of the ant Formica exsecta. Dispersal was male biased, with median male dispersal distances (∼140 m) twice those of queens (∼60 m). The results also showed that the population was inbred and that inbreeding avoidance behaviors—sex-biased dispersal, queen dispersal distance, and multiple mating—were all ineffective in reducing homozygosity among colony workers. Queen homozygosity did not affect dispersal behavior, but more homozygous queens had lower colony-founding success and were more incestuously mated themselves, with potentially accumulating effects on colony fitness. We also provide independent evidence that dispersal is sex biased and show that our estimate corresponds well with dispersal estimates derived from population genetic estimates.
Academy of Finland
LUOVA Doctoral Programme in Wildlife Biology
Finnish Society for Sciences and Letters
Vol. 186, Iss. 6, pp. 716 - 727