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Ant Ecology$
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Lori Lach, Catherine Parr, and Kirsti Abbott

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199544639

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199544639.001.0001

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Colony Structure

Colony Structure

(p.177) Chapter 10 Colony Structure
Ant Ecology

Florian M. Steiner

Ross H. Crozier

Birgit C. Schlick‐Steiner

Oxford University Press

Ant colony structure is a colony's caste, demographic, genealogical, and spatial make‐up. Characters of colony structure include the number and identity of reproductives, worker task allocation, and the nest number and architecture. A diversity of factors affect character states: genetics and gene flow, morphology, signal chemistry, nutrition, habitat, pathogen and parasite load, cooperation and conflict in the colony, colony age, and chance. Colony structure, in turn, has consequences for the colony, the population, the ant community, other organisms, and the abiotic environment. The formation of supercolonies represents a paradox in colony structure; reproductive altruism among unrelated individuals is not explicable by evolutionary theory that involves relatedness. Future work requires a more holistic approach to draw more universal conclusions on colony structure.

Keywords:   nest architecture, colony size, caste, demography, geneaology, worker task allocation, colony age, spatiality, gene flow, supercolony

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