Ant reproductive strategies

  title={Ant reproductive strategies},
  author={J{\"u}rgen Heinze and Kazuki Tsuji},
  journal={Researches on Population Ecology},
In contrast to what is generally believed, the reproductive strategies of ants are remarkably diverse and include such different phenomena, as wingless female and male sexuals, reproduction by mated workers, thelytokous parthenogenesis, and complete workerlessness. We review the various reproductive life histories and investigate them in the light of recent models on the evolution of dispersal strategies and multiple-queening. It appears that most deviations from “normal” colony propagation can… 

Morphological, Genetic and Behavioural Aspects of Reproduction in the Ant Genus Cardiocondyla

Regular inbreeding without negative effects indicates that sex is not determined by single-locus complementary sex determination in Cardiocondyla, which indicates that colonies regularly adopt alien queens in order to avoid negative effects of inbreeding by increasing genetic variability.

Alternative reproductive tactics in the ant genus Hypoponera

This long-term study reports strong seasonality in sexual production with two separated mating seasons in early and late summer, and a more male-biased allocation ratio for wingless reproductives demonstrates the greater importance of local resource competition.

The demise of the standard ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

The aim of this review is to give an overview of the large range of ant reproductive systems and to correct some misconceptions about the role of the magic value 0.75 in kin selection theory.

Recurrent evolution of dependent colony foundation across eusocial insects.

Dependent colony foundation evolved recurrently multiple times across the ants, bees, and wasps, though its prevalence in termites remains unclear and adaptations at both the colony level and the individual level are reviewed.

Ants in Flight: Reproduction, Dispersal and Predation of Ant Queens

  • J. Helms
  • Environmental Science, Biology
  • 2016
It is suggested that a model based approach to colony design and management should be considered rather than a straightforward one-size-fits-all approach.

Alternative reproductive tactics and the impact of local competition on sex ratios in the ant Hypoponera opacior

Male bias in wingless H. opacior indicates that local mate competition is less strong than local resource competition among ergatoid queens over the help of workers during nest foundation, and microsatellite analysis revealed that inter-nest variation in relatedness asymmetry cannot explain split sex ratios in the August generation.

Wood ant reproductive biology and social systems

This chapter introduces the reproductivebiology of wood ants, and also gives a general view of the life cycle of a wood ant colony to put the reproductive biology in context.

Alternative reproductive tactics and their consequences in the ant genus Cardiocondyla

Genetic data suggest that events of outbreeding alternate with inbreeding in the colonies, and this may prevent inbreeding depression in nature, as queens appear to be able to recognize kin from non-kin, and they may prefer to mate with unrelated males when a selection is available.

Sexual selection in honey bees: colony variation and the importance of size in male mating success

The lower fitness of small males shows that sexual selection is strong in honey bees and contributes to inclusive fitness dynamics that favor worker cooperation within their societies.

Range expansion drives the evolution of alternate reproductive strategies in invasive fire ants

Investment in parasitic queens extends the ecological lifespan of colonies, thereby increasing a population’s overall habitat occupancy as well as average colony size and territory size, and slowed the rate of range expansion by diverting investment from claustral queens.



Evolution of Colony Characteristics in Social Insects. I. Sex Allocation

  • P. Pamilo
  • Economics
    The American Naturalist
  • 1991
The inclusive-fitness model elaborated in this article can be applied to derive the expected allocation patterns of social insects, both as a function of the type of colony and of the amount of resources the colony can use in sexual production.

The occurrence of sexual reproduction among ant workers

Although a few non-ponerine species exhibit some of these preconditions, gamergates have not been found outside the Ponerinae, which alone exhibit the combination of traits leading to queen elimination and worker mating.

Habitat structure, dispersal strategies and queen number in two boreal Leptothorax ants

Alternative dispersal strategies strongly affect the average number of queens per colony and seasonal fluctuations of colony structure and in extended boreal forests dispersal on the wing is probably more common.

Evolution of life history strategies in ants : variation in queen number and mode of colony founding

This model suggests that a higher survival rate of queens may compensate for a low fecundity of queens adopting the dependent founding strategy, and predicts that dependent founding (or polygyny) would be more common in open areas where ant populations might suffer from random density independent population fluctuation than in forests where density dependent regulations could stabilize ant populations.


Evidence strongly suggests that when the worker caste is evolutionarily lost in perennial species like ants, it disappears rapidly and through a reduction in caste threshold and queen size, so that parasite larvae become queens with less food than required to produce host workers.

The Ecology of Communal Breeding: The Case of Multiple-Queen Leptothoracine Ants

A framework for understanding multiplequeening in leptothoracines almost certainly results from high costs to single queens of dispersal and colony foundation (high ecological constraints), which select for queens to seek adoption in their natal colony.

Phenotypic plasticity and “cultural transmission” of alternative social organizations in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta

Differences between the social forms in the mature phenotypes that are produced constrain the reproductive options of queens, so that the characteristic social organization of a colony is perpetuated by virtue of the social environment in which new queens are reared.

Queen number, mode of colony founding, and queen reproductive success in ants (Hymenoptera Formicidae)

A comparative study of 24 European ant species showed that dependent colony founding is not restricted to unicolonial polygyne species but that a significant proportion of all polygyn species utilize this mode of reproduction.

Colony level sex allocation in a polygynous and polydomous ant

Both the alate and wingless sex ratios may be influenced by a common primary sex ratio at the egg stage, the variance of which may have genetic components.

Evolution of Colony Characteristics in Social Insects. II. Number of Reproductive Individuals

  • P. Pamilo
  • Biology, Economics
    The American Naturalist
  • 1991
According to the results derived here through this model, both polyandry and polygyny can restrict the conditions for the evolution of worker reproduction.