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Experimental Polygyny and Colony Closure in the Ant Messor Barbarus (L.) (Hym. Formicidae)

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Colonies of Messor barbarus are monogynous. At the laboratory, it is possible to form polygynous colonies. This experimental model was used to study the influence of the number of queens on the degree of colony closure: are polygynous colonies more frequently open than monogynous ones? Experiments in which alien workers were transferred between monogynous and polygynous colonies showed that the latter had a lower degree of closure. The queen might play a major role in the recognition processes between individuals belonging to either the same or different colonies.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratoire d'Ethologie, C.N.R.S., UPR 38, 31 chemin J. Aiguier, 13402 Marseille, France; 2: Laboratoire de Zoologie Evolutive, Université de Provence, 3 Place Victor Hugo, 13331 Marseille

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