Mitochondrial markers in the ant Leptothorax rugatulus reveal the population genetic consequences of female philopatry at different hierarchical levels

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Olav Rueppell, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Leptothorax rugatulus, an abundant North American ant, displays a conspicuous queen size polymorphism that is related to alternative reproductive tactics. Large queens participate mainly in mating flights and found new colonies independent of their mother colony. In contrast, small queens do not found new colonies independently, but seek readoption into their natal nest which results in multiple-queen colonies (polygyny). Populations differ strongly in the ratio of small to large queens, the prevalent reproductive tactic and colony social structure, according to ecological parameters such as nest site stability and population density. This study compares the genetic structure of two strongly differing populations within the same mountain range. Data from microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA give no evidence for alien reproductives in polygynous colonies. The incidence of alien workers in colonies (as determined by mitochondrial haplotype) was low and did not differ between monogynous and polygynous colonies. We found significant population viscosity (isolation-by-distance) at the mitochondrial level in only the predominantly polygynous population, which supports the theoretical prediction that female philopatry leads to mtDNA-specific population structure. Nuclear and mitochondrial genetic diversity was similar in both populations. The genetic differentiation between the two investigated populations was moderate at the mitochondrial level, but not significantly different from zero when measured with microsatellites, which corroborates limited dispersal of females (but not males) at a larger scale.

Additional Information

Molecular Ecology 12: 795-801
Language: English
Date: 2003
Alternative tactics, Colony structure , Local adaptation , Nestmate recognition , Reproductive strategy , Social insects

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