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Title: Experimental investigations of inclusive fitness theory in a multiple-queen ant
Author: Friend, Lucy Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 2671
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2011
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Experimental investigations of kin-selected conflict in the eusocial Hymenoptera have proved essential in investigating inclusive fitness theory, the leading theory for social evolution. The aim of this thesis was to test both novel predictions, and existing predictions requiring further investigation, in this area. To this end, I performed four experiments using the facultatively multiple-queen ant Leptothorax acervorum as a model system. In the first experiment I tested the prediction that workers in multiple- queen colonies favour their most related queen during social interactions. The results showed that workers did not discriminate between nestmate queens based on relatedness. In the second experiment I tested the novel prediction that the extent to which workers prepare themselves for future reproduction is a function of colony social structure (i.e. queen number), given that single-queen colonies are more likely to provide a future opportunity for worker reproduction than multiple-queen colonies. The results were as predicted, with workers in previously single-queen colonies expressing higher levels of reproduction following queen removal than workers in previously multiple-queen colonies. In the third experiment I tested whether the workers that went on to reproduce after the removal of their queen(s) prepared for future reproduction by altering their behaviour. The results showed that the behaviour of future reproductive workers differed from that of other workers in the presence of the queen. In the fourth experiment I tested for an effect of maternal caste, colony social structure and egg age on worker policing. The results showed that workers policed non-nestmate worker-laid eggs at a higher level than non-nestmate queen-laid eggs, and that colony social structure and egg age had no effect on worker policing. The results of the second and third experiments are as predicted by inclusive fitness theory: workers are more highly related to their own sons than to nestmates' sons, and hence should attempt to maximise their chances of producing their own male offspring in the future. The results of the first and fourth experiments are not as predicted by inclusive fitness theory based on relatedness alone, but fit within the theory when costs and constraints are considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available