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Data from: Natal dispersal, mating patterns, and inbreeding in the ant Formica exsecta


Vitikainen, Emma I. K.; Haag-Liautard, Cathy; Sundström, Liselotte (2015), Data from: Natal dispersal, mating patterns, and inbreeding in the ant Formica exsecta, Dryad, Dataset,


Sex-biased dispersal and multiple mating may prevent or alleviate inbreeding and its outcome, inbreeding depression, but studies demonstrating this in the wild are scarce. Perennial ant colonies offer a unique system to investigate the relationships between natal dispersal behaviour and inbreeding. Due to the sedentary life of ant colonies and life-time sperm storage by queens, measures of dispersal distance and mating strategy are easier to obtain than in most taxa. We used a suite of molecular markers to infer the natal colonies of queens and males in a wild population of the ant Formica exsecta. Dispersal was male-biased, with median male dispersal distances (ca. 140m) twice those of queens (ca. 60m). The results show the population to be inbred, and that inbreeding avoidance behaviours - sex-biased dispersal, queen dispersal distance and multiple mating - were all ineffective in reducing homozygosity among colony workers. Queen homozygosity did not affect dispersal behaviour, but more homozygous queens had lower colony founding success and were more incestuously mated themselves, with potentially accumulating effects on colony fitness. We also provide independent evidence that dispersal is sex-biased, and show that our estimate corresponds well to dispersal estimates derived from population genetic estimates.

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Tvärminne Zoological Station