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

Publications

  • Ebie, Jessica D., Hölldobler, Bert, and Liebig, Jürgen. Larval regulation of worker reproduction in the polydomous ant Novomessor cockerelliThe 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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