Alternative reproductive strategies may lead to divergences in queen morphology within ant species. Queens that found nests independently require large size to store resources for initiating nests, while queens that found nests dependently require less stored energy and, therefore, can evolve a smaller size. Queens of the cavity-nesting ant Leptothorax longispinosus collected in southern Wisconsin have a bimodal size distribution. Twenty-three percent of all nests and 56% of polygynous nests contained both large and small queens. Nesting units producing female alates specialized on one size of morph: nesting units with only small queens produced only small female alates, but nesting units with only large queens produced either all large or all small females. Nesting units producing small female alates produced 1 or 2 females, while those producing large female alates produced between 1 and 26. Two nests produced large females in the field, and then produced small females after transfer into lab nests, suggesting that queen size is determined during larval development. The distribution of queen sizes varied between habitat patches, with a bimodal distribution at the Dewey site and a distribution skewed towards smaller females at the Arboretum site. Males produced by nesting units from the Arboretum site are smaller than males at the Dewey site. Higher nest densities and a smaller patch of forest at the Arboretum may be factors in the reduced size of alates at this site.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Leptothorax longispinosus
Keywords: queen, dimorphism
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