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Reproductive regulation in polydomous ant species
Polydomous ant species have a nest structure composed of multiple unconnected satellite nests in addition to the main nest containing the queen. These satellite nests often contain workers, brood, and food for the colony. A key piece of information that must be shared among the colony to avoid the breakdown of colony function is the presence of a fertile queen. In many species, workers that are artificially isolate from the queen will activate their ovaries and begin producing male-destined eggs. However, this rarely occurs in wild, queenright colonies. I study the mechanisms used to communicate the presence of a fertile queen to workers in distant nests where workers are isolated from the queen for extended periods of time. Using Novomessor cockerelli, Oecophylla smaragdina, and Camponotus floridanus, I study the behavioral and chemical mechanisms that signal the presence of the queen to her workers. These mechanisms include queen fertility signals, policing, and larval regulation.
In the media
Ceurstemont, Sandrine. ”Baby ants have a host of unexpected super powers”, BBC Earth, April 6, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170405-baby-ants-have-a-host-of-unexpected-superpowers
Ebie, Jessica D., Hölldobler, Bert, and Liebig, Jürgen. Larval regulation of worker reproduction in the polydomous ant Novomessor cockerelli. The Science of Nature, 102:72, 2015. doi: 10.1007/s00114-015-1323-2
Penick, CA, Ebie, J, and Moore, D. A non-destructive method for identifying the sex of ant larvae. Insectes Sociaux, 61:51 – 55. 2014. doi: 10.1007/s00040-013-0323-5
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