Colony and population structure of the obligate slavemaker ant Protomognathus americanus was analyzed via four nuclear microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers. Colonies of P. americanus usually contain a single queen, and here we show that she is singly inseminated. Nestmate workers are generally full sisters and their relatedness does not deviate from the expected value of 0.75. Even though colonies were strictly monogynous, we were able to infer that colony takeover by related queens was common and queen replacement by unrelated queens was rare. Polydomy is widespread, with neighboring nests having the same genetic composition. Although we found no evidence of population viscosity or inbreeding from nuclear markers, mtDNA markers provided evidence for small-scale genetic structuring. Haplotype structuring and takeover by related queens suggest philopatry of newly mated queens. In this species, workers reproduce in queenright and queenless nests and worker reproduction accounts for more than 70% of all males. Although sex-ratio theory points to slavemaking ants as important systems for studying queen-worker conflict, our results indicate no basis for such conflict in P. americanus, because extensive worker reproduction generates shifts in relatedness values. Rather, the dual effects of independent polydomous nest units and local resource competition among queens produce male-biased allocation ratios in this species.
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Vol. 55 • No. 2