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Correlates and Consequences of Worker Polymorphism in Ants

Published on Jan 7, 2018in Annual Review of Entomology 11.80
· DOI :10.1146/annurev-ento-020117-043357
Bill D. Wills3
Estimated H-index: 3
(MSU: Michigan State University),
Scott Powell20
Estimated H-index: 20
(GW: George Washington University)
+ 1 AuthorsAndrew V. Suarez45
Estimated H-index: 45
Cite
Abstract
Body size is a key life-history trait influencing all aspects of an organism's biology. Ants provide an interesting model for examining body-size variation because of the high degree of worker polymorphism seen in many taxa. We review worker-size variation in ants from the perspective of factors internal and external to the colony that may influence body-size distributions. We also discuss proximate and ultimate causes of size variation and how variation in worker size can promote worker efficiency and colony fitness. Our review focuses on two questions: What is our current understanding of factors influencing worker-size variation? And how does variation in body size benefit the colony? We conclude with recommendations for future work aimed at addressing current limitations and ask, How can we better understand the contribution of worker body-size variation to colony success? And, what research is needed to address gaps in our knowledge?
  • References (131)
  • Citations (11)
Cite
References131
Newest
Published in The American Naturalist 3.85
Carl Simpson15
Estimated H-index: 15
,
Jeremy B. C. Jackson59
Estimated H-index: 59
,
Amalia Herrera-Cubilla3
Estimated H-index: 3
AbstractColonial animals commonly exhibit morphologically polymorphic modular units that are phenotypically distinct and specialize in specific functional tasks. But how and why these polymorphic modules have evolved is poorly understood. Across colonial invertebrates, there is wide variation in the degree of polymorphism, from none in colonial ascidians to extreme polymorphism in siphonophores, such as the Portuguese man-of-war. Bryozoa are a phylum of exclusively colonial invertebrates that un...
Published on Feb 1, 2017in Evolution 3.57
Benjamin Blanchard5
Estimated H-index: 5
(U of C: University of Chicago),
Corrie S. Moreau22
Estimated H-index: 22
(FMNH: Field Museum of Natural History)
Evolutionary biologists have long predicted that evolutionary trade-offs among traits should constrain morphological divergence and species diversification. However, this prediction has yet to be tested in a broad evolutionary context in many diverse clades, including ants. Here, we reconstruct an expanded ant phylogeny representing 82% of ant genera, compile a new family-wide trait database, and conduct various trait-based analyses to show that defensive traits in ants do exhibit an evolutionar...
Published on Feb 1, 2017in Current opinion in insect science 3.78
Angelica Lillico-Ouachour3
Estimated H-index: 3
(McGill University),
Ehab Abouheif28
Estimated H-index: 28
(McGill University)
Ant colonies are considered complex biological systems because many individuals are divided into different castes that interact to efficiently perform their tasks. Colonies in the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole have evolved a worker caste with at least two subcastes: soldiers and minor workers. The proportion of soldiers and minor workers in a colony has a major impact on the colony's fitness and is tightly regulated. Here, we summarize over 100 years of research on the internal, external, and ...
Published on Jan 1, 2017in The Journal of Experimental Biology 3.02
Waring Trible4
Estimated H-index: 4
(Rockefeller University),
Daniel J. C. Kronauer23
Estimated H-index: 23
(Rockefeller University)
ABSTRACT Female ants display a wide variety of morphological castes, including workers, soldiers, ergatoid (worker-like) queens and queens. Alternative caste development within a species arises from a variable array of genetic and environmental factors. Castes themselves are also variable across species and have been repeatedly gained and lost throughout the evolutionary history of ants. Here, we propose a simple theory of caste development and evolution. We propose that female morphology varies...
Published on Nov 28, 2016in PLOS ONE 2.78
Walter R. Tschinkel45
Estimated H-index: 45
,
Christina L. Kwapich5
Estimated H-index: 5
The Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius, is one of many ant species and genera that stores large numbers of seeds in damp, underground chambers for later consumption. A comparison of the sizes of seeds recovered from storage chambers with those of seed husks discarded following consumption revealed that the used seeds are far smaller than stored seeds. This difference in use-rate was confirmed in field and laboratory colonies by offering marked seeds of various sizes and monitoring the ap...
Published on Nov 1, 2016in Journal of Evolutionary Biology 2.54
Robert Planqué13
Estimated H-index: 13
(VU: VU University Amsterdam),
Scott Powell20
Estimated H-index: 20
(GW: George Washington University)
+ 1 AuthorsJan Bouwe van den Berg11
Estimated H-index: 11
(VU: VU University Amsterdam)
Theory suggests that evolutionary branching via disruptive selection may be a relatively common and powerful force driving phenotypic divergence. Here, we extend this theory to social insects, which have novel social axes of phenotypic diversification. Our model, built around turtle ant (Cephalotes) biology, is used to explore whether disruptive selection can drive the evolutionary branching of divergent colony phenotypes that include a novel soldier caste. Soldier evolution is a recurrent theme...
Published on Sep 15, 2016in The Journal of Experimental Biology 3.02
Abel Bernadou6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Toulouse),
Antoine Felden1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Toulouse)
+ 2 AuthorsVincent Fourcassié6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Toulouse)
ABSTRACT We studied in the field the load transport behavior of workers of the polymorphic Mediterranean seed harvester ant Messor barbarus . Individual ants used two different methods to transport food items: carrying and dragging. The probability of dragging instead of carrying varied significantly with both the mass of the item transported and its linear dimension. Moreover, the values of item mass and length at which dragging began to occur increased with increasing size of the workers. Howe...
Published on Jul 8, 2016in Annual Review of Neuroscience 12.04
Daniel A. Friedman3
Estimated H-index: 3
,
Deborah M. Gordon50
Estimated H-index: 50
(Stanford University)
Many exciting studies have begun to elucidate the genetics of the morphological and physiological diversity of ants, but as yet few studies have investigated the genetics of ant behavior directly. Ant genomes are marked by extreme rates of gene turnover, especially in gene families related to olfactory communication, such as the synthesis of cuticular hydrocarbons and the perception of environmental semiochemicals. Transcriptomic and epigenetic differences are apparent between reproductive and s...
Published on Jul 1, 2016in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2.10
Scott Powell20
Estimated H-index: 20
(GW: George Washington University)
This work uses a comparative framework to address the adaptive evolutionary relationship between nesting ecology and the morphological diversification of the soldier caste in turtle ants (Cephalotes). Turtle ant colonies nest in pre-existing arboreal cavities, and soldiers specialize in colony defense by blocking cavity entrances with their armored heads. Analyses were focused on three major axes of soldier morphological diversification: discrete morphotype, head size, and headsize range (i.e., ...
Published on Jul 1, 2016in Biological Journal of The Linnean Society 2.20
Jo-Anne C. Holley1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign),
Corrie S. Moreau22
Estimated H-index: 22
(FMNH: Field Museum of Natural History)
+ 1 AuthorsAndrew V. Suarez45
Estimated H-index: 45
(UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)
An organism's morphology is constrained by its evolutionary history and the need to meet a variety of potentially competing functions. The ant genus Pheidole is the most species-rich ant genus and almost every species has a dimorphic worker caste (a few are trimorphic). This separation of workers into two developmentally distinct subcastes (smaller minors and larger majors with distinctively large heads) may partially release individuals from functional constraints on morphology, making Pheidole...
Cited By11
Newest
Published on May 6, 2019in Ethology 1.52
Haruna Fujioka1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UTokyo: University of Tokyo),
Masato S. Abe2
Estimated H-index: 2
+ 0 AuthorsYasukazu Okada (Tokyo Metropolitan University)
Published on May 7, 2019in Environmental Science and Pollution Research 2.91
Irena M. Grześ9
Estimated H-index: 9
,
Mateusz Okrutniak3
Estimated H-index: 3
+ 1 AuthorsPiotr Piszczek1
Estimated H-index: 1
The phenotypic diversity of ant workers plays a fundamental role in their biology. In this study, we asked if the body size variation of monomorphic workers of the ant Lasius niger (Formicidae) responds adaptively to metal pollution in a post-mining metal-polluted area. Nest samples of workers were collected along a pollution gradient to calculate the within-colony variance in body size (expressed as maximum head width, HW). The results showed that the body size variation of L. niger was unrelat...
Published in Evolution 3.57
Piret Avila1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UNIL: University of Lausanne),
Lutz Fromhage21
Estimated H-index: 21
(University of Jyväskylä),
Laurent Lehmann (UNIL: University of Lausanne)
Published on Apr 11, 2019in bioRxiv
Nicholas R. Friedman9
Estimated H-index: 9
(OIST: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology),
Beatrice Lecroq Bennet (OIST: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology)+ 4 AuthorsEvan P. Economo17
Estimated H-index: 17
(OIST: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology)
Phenotypic traits are often integrated into evolutionary modules: sets of organismal parts that evolve together. In social insect colonies the concepts of integration and modularity apply to sets of traits both within and among functionally and phenotypically differentiated castes. On macroevolutionary timescales, patterns of integration and modularity within and across castes can be clues to the selective and ecological factors shaping their evolution and diversification. We develop a set of hy...
R. Keating Godfrey (UA: University of Arizona), Wulfila Gronenberg34
Estimated H-index: 34
(UA: University of Arizona)
Sociality is classified as one of the major transitions in the evolution of complexity and much effort has been dedicated to understanding what traits predispose lineages to sociality. Conversely, studies addressing the role of sociality in brain evolution (e.g., the social brain hypothesis) have not focused on particular traits and instead relied largely on measurements of relative brain composition. Hymenoptera range from solitary to advanced social species, providing enticing comparisons for ...
Published on Dec 1, 2018in Journal of Thermal Biology 1.90
Kaitlin M. Baudier4
Estimated H-index: 4
(ASU: Arizona State University),
S E A N O ' Do N Ne5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Drexel University)
Abstract In social insects, group members can differ in thermal physiology, and these differences may affect colony function. Upper thermal tolerance limits (CTmax) generally increase with body size among and within ant species, but size effects on lower thermal tolerances (CTmin) are poorly known. To test whether CTmin co-variation with body size matched patterns for CTmax, we measured CTmax and CTmin in workers of four size-based worker subcastes in the army ant Eciton burchellii parvispinum ....
Published on Dec 1, 2018in Scientific Reports 4.01
Peter R. Marting1
Estimated H-index: 1
(ASU: Arizona State University),
Nicole M. Kallman (ASU: Arizona State University)+ 1 AuthorsStephen C. Pratt28
Estimated H-index: 28
A holistic understanding of superorganism biology requires study of colony sociometry, or the quantitative relationships among growth, nest architecture, morphology, and behavior. For ant colonies that obligately nest within plant hosts, their sociometry is likely intertwined with the plant, which has implications for the evolution, strength, and stability of the mutualism. In the Azteca-Cecropia mutualism, plants provide ants with food rewards and hollow stems for nesting in return for protecti...
Published on Nov 1, 2018in Insectes Sociaux 1.41
Grant Navid Doering3
Estimated H-index: 3
(UCSB: University of California, Santa Barbara),
Ambika Kamath5
Estimated H-index: 5
(UCSB: University of California, Santa Barbara)
+ 1 AuthorsJonathan N. Pruitt33
Estimated H-index: 33
(UCSB: University of California, Santa Barbara)
It is often hypothesized that ant species with substantial variation in worker body size should have schemes for allocating workers to different foraging tasks based on size. Here, we document in Anoplolepis custodiens ants preliminary evidence for a relationship between worker body size and the foraging surfaces on which workers walk. Workers of A. custodiens were collected in pitfall traps near their nest entrances and compared in size to workers exploring the branches of associated shrubs (Sa...
Published on Oct 12, 2018in Environmental Entomology 1.45
Priscila Elena Hanisch2
Estimated H-index: 2
(CONICET: National Scientific and Technical Research Council),
Andrew V. Suarez45
Estimated H-index: 45
(UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)
+ 1 AuthorsCarolina I. Paris4
Estimated H-index: 4
(UBA: University of Buenos Aires)
Published on Jul 1, 2018in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2.10
Flávio Camarota3
Estimated H-index: 3
(UFU: Federal University of Uberlandia),
Heraldo L. Vasconcelos39
Estimated H-index: 39
(UFU: Federal University of Uberlandia)
+ 1 AuthorsScott Powell20
Estimated H-index: 20
(GW: George Washington University)