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Investigating relationships between behavior, environment, genetic diversity and reproductive success of neotropical ants (Camponotus renggeri and C. rufipes; Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Grant number: 20/15636-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2021
Effective date (End): June 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics
Principal researcher:Gustavo Maruyama Mori
Grantee:Miguel Piovesana Pereira Romeiro
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB-CLP). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus Experimental do Litoral Paulista. São Vicente , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Studies about factors related to the reproductive success of species allow us to understand the adaptive meaning of these characteristics, fundamental for the adaptation processes in populations. Ants make up complex social organizations in which virgin males and queens fly from parental nests to mate. However, some species may have variations in the breeding system. For example, a queen can mate with more than one male (polyandry), and more than one queen can be present inside the colonies (polygyny). Both strategies have their costs and can play a fundamental role in the size and genetic diversity of a population. In addition, it is known that reproductive success can be influenced by the genetic makeup of individuals (i.e. heterozygosity). These can be relevant aspects at various biological levels, with direct implications for the ability to respond to environmental changes through natural selection. Despite this, most studies on factors that shape reproductive success do not include insects. Thus, the objective of this work is to investigate environmental factors, life history, reproductive and genetic factors that can influence the reproductive success of Camponotus renggeri and C. rufipes queens. We hypothesize that the reproductive success of queens is (1) higher the greater their heterozygosity, (2) higher the greater the number of males with which the queen has copulated, (3) lower the greater the number of coexisting queens in the colony, and (4) lowers the greater the level of environmental disturbance around the colony. This study will make it possible to understand the evolutionary meaning of characteristics of target ants, help to unveil which factors may be determinants in the ecological success of these species, and contribute to the knowledge about reproductive systems and genetic variability of ants, a topic not extensively explored in the Neotropics. (AU)

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