University of Oulu

Heikki Helanterä. (2022). Supercolonies of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): ecological patterns, behavioural processes and their implications for social evolution.

Supercolonies of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) : ecological patterns, behavioural processes and their implications for social evolution

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Author: Helanterä, Heikki1
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, POB 3000, FI-900014 University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Österreichische Gesellschaft für Entomofaunistik, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-01-03


Supercolonies of ants are perhaps the largest non-human animal societies, at their largest spanning several millions of individuals and thousands of nests and in invasive species even crossing oceans. Supercolonies have convergently evolved in several ant groups, and they all share a syndrome of key features. First, their colonies spread by budding, which leads to extensive polydomy and inter-nest movement of individuals. Second, local mating and recruitment of queens lead to extensive polygyny. Their ecological dominance is clear, but their evolutionary maintenance is enigmatic due to low relatedness among cooperating individuals and the lack of clear functional organization above local polydomous units. This review takes a multi-level look at the social evolution of supercolonies in an inclusive fitness perspective, outlining key behavioural, ecological, and genetic processes as well as open questions. Such consideration of cooperation and competition from the gene level to the level of populations of supercolonies is necessary for understanding the history and future of supercolonies.

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Series: Myrmecological news
ISSN: 1994-4136
ISSN-E: 1997-3500
ISSN-L: 1994-4136
Volume: 32
Pages: 1 - 22
DOI: 10.25849/myrmecol.news_032:001
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0,