Data from: The socially parasitic ant Polyergus mexicanus has host-associated genetic population structure and related neighboring nests
Sapp, Joseph; Yost, Jenn; Lyon, Bruce (2020), Data from: The socially parasitic ant Polyergus mexicanus has host-associated genetic population structure and related neighboring nests, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wstqjq2h9
The genetic structure of populations can be both a cause and a consequence of ecological interactions. For parasites, genetic structure may be a consequence of preferences for host species or of mating behavior. Conversely, genetic structure can determine where conspecific interactions among parasites lay on a spectrum from cooperation to conflict. We used microsatellite loci to characterize the genetic structure of a population of the socially parasitic dulotic (aka “slave-making”) ant (Polyergus mexicanus), which is known for its host-specificity and conspecific aggression. First, we assessed whether the pattern of host species use by the parasite has influenced parasite population structure. We found that host species use was correlated with subpopulation structure, but this correlation was imperfect: some subpopulations used one host species exclusively, while others used several. Second, we examined the viscosity of the parasite population by measuring the relatedness of pairs of neighboring parasitic ant nests at varying distances from each other. Although natural history observations of local dispersal by queens suggested the potential for viscosity, there was no strong correlation between relatedness and distance between nests. However, 35% of nests had a closely related neighboring nest, indicating that kinship could potentially affect the nature of some interactions between nests of this social parasite. Our findings confirm that ecological forces like host species selection can shape the genetic structure of parasite populations, and that such genetic structure has the potential to influence parasite-parasite interactions in social parasites via inclusive fitness.
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National Science Foundation, Award: Graduate Research Fellowship Program NSF 16-588
University of California, Santa Cruz, Award: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department Graduate research fellowships
Natural Reserve System, University of California, Award: Mathias Graduate Student Research Grant Program
Sigma Xi, Award: Grants in aid of research