Fire ant polymorphism: the ergonomics of brood production

  title={Fire ant polymorphism: the ergonomics of brood production},
  author={Sanford D. Porter and Walter R. Tschinkel},
  journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology},
SummarySocial organization is generally assumed to increase colony efficiency and survival; however, little quantitative information is available to support this assumption. Polymorphism is an important aspect of labor division in colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Our objective was to investigate the effect of fire ant polymorphism on brood production efficiency. We set up standardized polymorphic colonies with a full range of worker sizes and artificial monomorphic colonies that… 

Colony growth and the ontogeny of worker polymorphism in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta

  • W. Tschinkel
  • Economics
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2004
Colony size and worker polymorphism (headwidth) were determined for fire ant colonies ranging from incipient to 12 years of age, suggesting that major workers play an important role in colony success.

Decreasing worker size diversity does not affect colony performance during laboratory challenges in the ant Temnothorax nylanderi

The hypothesis that low size diversity in the ant Temnothorax nylanderi is merely the product of developmental noise and is not necessarily adaptive is supported and social life could relax the selective pressures maintaining developmental and social canalizations, subsequently leading to size diversity.

Division of labor increases with colony size in the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus

A positive scaling relationship between colony size and division of labor in 2 different contexts is found and the importance of colony size for the organization of work in insect societies is highlighted, raising broader questions about the role of size in sociobiology.

The relationship between the distribution of worker sizes and new worker production in the ant Formica neorufibarbis

These are the first results to directly link the range of worker sizes to a component of colony fitness in a natural setting.

Resource allocation, brood production and cannibalism during colony founding in the fire ant,Solenopsis invicta

  • W. Tschinkel
  • Environmental Science
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2005
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Testing the importance of the distribution of worker sizes to colony performance in the ant species Formica obscuripes Forel

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Queen–worker caste ratio depends on colony size in the pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis)

It is found that smaller colonies produced more new queens relative to workers, and that these queens and workers both tended to be larger, suggesting that polygynous species with budding colonies may adaptively adjust caste ratios to ensure rapid growth.

Manipulation of worker size diversity does not affect colony fitness under natural conditions in the ant Temnothorax nylanderi

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Impact of worker longevity and other endogenous factors on colony size in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta

Central to the survival and reproduction of social insect queens is the size of colonies at maturity. The influence of exogenous factors such as predation, food abundance, and seasonal changes in



Fire ant polymorphism (Hymenoptera:Formicidae): factors affecting worker size.

Pupae produced in artificially composed polymorphic, dimorphic, and small-worker colonies were not significantly different in either average size or frequency distributions, however, larger colonies produced significantly larger pupae.

Queen replacement in orphaned colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta

The hypothesis is developed that the inseminated replacements are surviving foundresses from pleometrotic colony founding, and that S. invicta is often polygynous but functionally monogynous.

Quantification and modification of worker size variation in the fire antSolenopsis invicta

Both pupal numbers and mean pupal size increased throughout the 4-month experiment even though worker number was kept constant, and were correlated to experimental colony size.

Brood-Rearing in Relation to Worker Number in the Ant Myrmica

  • M. Brian
  • Biology
    Physiological Zoology
  • 1953
Evidence was provided in support of the hypothesis that the growth of the worker population was autocatalytic, the numbers at any time playing a large part in determining the amount of growing juvenile replacement material.

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  • E. Wilson
  • Biology
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2004
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Censuses showing the numerical relations between adults and immature stages are presented for numerous colonies of social Hymenoptera, finding that the efficiency per adult female is usually greater the smaller the colony, and in those primitively social forms which sometimes live as lone individuals, it is these isolated females that produce the most progeny per female.

Caste and division of labor in leaf-cutter ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Atta)

  • E. Wilson
  • Environmental Science
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2004
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Division of labor in fire ants based on physical castes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Solenopsis).

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