University of Oulu

Heikki Helanterä, Martina Ozan, Liselotte Sundström, Relatedness modulates reproductive competition among queens in ant societies with multiple queens, Behavioral Ecology, Volume 34, Issue 3, May/June 2023, Pages 340–345,

Relatedness modulates reproductive competition among queens in ant societies with multiple queens

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Author: Helanterä, Heikki1,2,3; Ozan, Martina1,2; Sundström, Liselotte1,2
Organizations: 1Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, P.O.BOX 65, FI 00014, Helsinki University, Finland
2Tvärminne Zoological station, J.A. Palménintie 260, FI 10900 Hanko, Finland
3Faculty of Science, Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, FI 90014, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oxford University Press, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-22


Reproductive sharing in animal groups with multiple breeders, insects and vertebrates alike, contains elements of both conflict and cooperation, and depends on both relatedness between co-breeders, as well as their internal and external conditions. We studied how queens of the ant Formica fusca adjust their reproductive efforts in response to experimental manipulations of the kin competition regime in their nest. Queens respond to the presence of competitors by increasing their egg laying efforts, but only if the competitors are highly fecund and distantly related. Such a mechanism is likely to decrease harmful competition among close relatives. We demonstrate that queens of Formica fusca fine-tune their cooperative breeding behaviors in response to kinship and fecundity of others in a remarkably precise and flexible manner.

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Series: Behavioral ecology
ISSN: 1045-2249
ISSN-E: 1465-7279
ISSN-L: 1045-2249
Volume: 34
Issue: 3
Pages: 340 - 345
DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arad004
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (grant numbers 251337, 252411, 284666 to L.S. and the Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions, 114990 to H.H.); and the LUOVA graduate school (M.O.).
Dataset Reference: Analyses reported in this article can be reproduced using the data provided by Helanterä et al. (2023).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.