Conditional Manipulation of Sex Ratios by Ant Workers: A Test of Kin Selection Theory

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Science  08 Nov 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5289, pp. 993-995
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5289.993


Variable queen mating frequencies provide a unique opportunity to study the resolution of worker-queen conflict over sex ratio in social Hymenoptera, because the conflict is maximal in colonies headed by a singly mated queen and is weak or nonexistent in colonies headed by a multiply mated queen. In the wood ant Formica exsecta, workers in colonies with a singly mated queen, but not those in colonies with a multiply mated queen, altered the sex ratio of queen-laid eggs by eliminating males to preferentially raise queens. By this conditional response to queen mating frequency, workers enhance their inclusive fitness.