Lineage specific evolution of an alternative social strategy in Tetramorium ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Schlick-Steiner, Birgit C., Steiner, Florian M., Sanetra, Matthias, Seifert, Bernhard, Christian, Erhard, and Stauffer, Christian (2007) Lineage specific evolution of an alternative social strategy in Tetramorium ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 91 (2). pp. 247-255.

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The western Palearctic ant, Tetramorium moravicum, is the only species of the large genus known to display two alternative social strategies: macrogyny-monoygyny (characterized by one large queen per colony) and microgyny-polygyny (multiple small queens per colony). The microgyne colonies of this ant are confined to the westernmost part of its distribution area and occasionally co-occur with macrogyne colonies. We investigated phylogenetic and geographical patterns in relation to social strategy by analysing 1031 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene of T. moravicum from the entire known species range. Phylogenetic analyses revealed two clear-cut lineages coinciding with the eastern and western populations, which probably were separated after the late Quaternary glacial periods. Geographical distance analysis suggested allopatric fragmentation of the two lineages. We hypothesize that the two lineages colonized Central Europe postglacially from two directions. The current distribution gap of 500 km between the tip of the eastern lineage, in the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary, and the western lineage, in Germany, was confirmed by hierarchical population analysis. Macrogyny-monogyny probably was the original condition in T. moravicum; the alternative strategy of microgyny-polygyny may have evolved at the tip of the western lineage, as recently as the early Holocene.

Item ID: 2171
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8312
Keywords: microgyny-polygyny; mtDNA; phylogeography; population structure; post-glacial colonization; queen size dimorphism; social evolution; Tetramorium moravicum; western Palearctic
Date Deposited: 28 May 2009 00:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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