Eur. J. Entomol. 112 (1): 175-179, 2015 | 10.14411/eje.2015.025

Morphometrics, life history and population biology of the Ponto-Caucasian slave-making ant Myrmoxenus tamarae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Nana GRATIASHVILI1,2, Masaki SUEFUJI1, Shalva BARJADZE3, Jürgen HEINZE1
1 Biologie I, Universität Regensburg, 93040 Regensburg, Germany; e-mails: nanagratiashvili@yahoo.com; Masaki.Suefuji@biologie.uni-regensburg.de; Juergen.Heinze@biologie.uni-regensburg.de
2 Institute of Zoology, Ilia State University, Giorgi Tsereteli 3, 0162 Tbilisi, Georgia
3 Institute of Entomology, Agricultural University of Georgia, 13th km of David Aghmashenebeli Alley, 0159 Tbilisi, Georgia; e-mail: shalva.barjadze@yahoo.com

Abstract. The ant genus Myrmoxenus consists of about ten socially parasitic species including active slave-makers and workerless "degenerate slave-makers". Myrmoxenus tamarae was previously known only from type material, two workers collected at Daba, Georgia and nothing was known about its life history, colony structure or the morphology of its sexuals. An inspection of colonies of M. tamarae near the type locality in 2010 indicates that young queens of M. tamarae invade Temnothorax nests and kill the host queen by throttling. The simultaneous presence of two slave species in a single colony (an undescribed species related to T. nylanderi and a species morphologically resembling T. unifasciatus) indicates that M. tamarae is an active slave-maker. The genetic structure of the colonies matches that expected for a monogynous and monandrous ant, but three of eight colonies inspected appeared to contain workers belonging to an additional genetic lineage.

Keywords: Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmoxenus, slave-making ants, morphometrics, colony structure, population biology

Received: June 4, 2014; Accepted: October 9, 2014; Prepublished online: December 5, 2014; Published: January 25, 2015

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