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Data from: Cuticular hydrocarbons as potential mediators of cryptic species divergence in a mutualistic ant association

Citation

Hartke, Juliane et al. (2019), Data from: Cuticular hydrocarbons as potential mediators of cryptic species divergence in a mutualistic ant association, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9r106tn

Abstract

Upon advances in sequencing techniques, more and more morphologically identical organisms are identified as cryptic species. Often, mutualistic interactions are proposed as drivers of diversification. Species of the Neotropical parabiotic ant association between Crematogaster levior and Camponotus femoratus are known for highly diverse cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profiles, which in insects serve as desiccation barrier but also as communication cues. In the present study we investigated the association of the ants’ CHC profiles to genotypes and morphological traits, and discovered cryptic species pairs in both genera. To assess putative niche differentiation between the cryptic species, we conducted an environmental association study that included various climate variables, canopy cover, and mutualistic plant species. Although mostly sympatric, the two Camponotus species seem to prefer different climate niches. However in the two Crematogaster species, we could not detect any differences in niche preference. The strong differentiation in the CHC profiles may thus suggest either a possible role during speciation itself by inducing assortative mating, or by reinforcing sexual selection after the speciation event. We did not detect any further niche differences in the environmental parameters tested. Thus, it remains open how the cryptic species avoid competitive exclusion, with scope for further investigations.

Usage Notes

Location

French Guiana