Browsing by Subject "polydomy"

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  • Hakala, Sanja M.; Ittonen, Mats; Seppä, Perttu; Helanterä, Heikki (2020)
    Abstract Understanding how social groups function requires studies on how individuals move across the landscape and interact with each other. Ant supercolonies are extreme cooperative units that may consist of thousands of interconnected nests, and their individuals cooperate over large spatial scales. However, the inner structure of suggested supercolonial (or unicolonial) societies has rarely been extensively studied using both genetic and behavioral analyses. We describe a dense supercolony-like aggregation of more than 1,300 nests of the ant Formica (Coptoformica) pressilabris. We performed aggression assays and found that, while aggression levels were generally low, there was some aggression within the assumed supercolony. The occurrence of aggression increased with distance from the focal nest, in accordance with the genetically viscous population structure we observe by using 10 DNA microsatellite markers. However, the aggressive interactions do not follow any clear pattern that would allow specifying colony borders within the area. The genetic data indicate limited gene flow within and away from the supercolony. Our results show that a Formica supercolony is not necessarily a single unit but can be a more fluid mosaic of aggressive and amicable interactions instead, highlighting the need to study internest interactions in detail when describing supercolonies.