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Genetic diversity, colony chemical phenotype, and nest mate recognition in the ant Formica fusca


  • Heikki Helanterä
  • Yasmin R. Lee
  • Falko P. Drijfhout
  • Stephen J. Martin


Recognition of relatives is often crucial for adaptive social behavior, but availability of recognition cues may limit adaptation. Social insect workers direct altruism toward relatives through nest mate recognition. We studied whether genetic diversity increases nest mate recognition cue diversity and weakens nest mate recognition behavior in the ant Formica fusca that has both multiple and single queen societies in sympatric populations. Despite larger genetic diversity in multiple queen than single queen colonies, we found no differences in chemical recognition cue diversity or aggression toward non-nest mates in behavioral bioassays. The results suggest that the relationship between individual genotypes and the colony chemical phenotype is a complex interaction of genes and the environment, including the social setting of the colony and that increase in genetic diversity does not increase cue diversity to levels that would cause informational constraints on recognition behavior in the species. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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  • Heikki Helanterä & Yasmin R. Lee & Falko P. Drijfhout & Stephen J. Martin, 2011. "Genetic diversity, colony chemical phenotype, and nest mate recognition in the ant Formica fusca," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(4), pages 710-716.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:710-716

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bates, Douglas & Mächler, Martin & Bolker, Ben & Walker, Steve, 2015. "Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 67(i01).
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