Several species of North American Leptothorax ants are facultative slave-makers. However, the raiding behavior that can occasionally result in mixed-species nests is most likely to be directed toward rival conspecific colonies. As a result, it is possible for naturally occurring colonies to contain one or more subsets of workers that are unrelated to the queen(s).
Colonies of L. longispinosus were constructed that consisted of a single queen and equal numbers of worker pupae from one, two or four unrelated donor colonies. This resulted in mature experimental colonies with decreasing mean worker relatedness. Spatial organization of workers within the nest, worker response to unfamiliar individuals and recruitment success of scouts were then measured.
Results indicate that workers in highly related colonies are less dispersed within the nest, are better able to distinguish between unfamiliar kin and non-kin and respond more favorably to recruitment overtures. Performance effects due to the incorporation of unrelated workers may be an incidental cost of increasing colony size and/or capturing limited nest sites. This effect may have even greater consequences for obligate slave-making species, which have workforces that usually contain ants captured from several different host colonies.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Leptothorax longispinosus
Keywords: relatedness, slavery
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