Extremely high mating frequency in the Florida harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex badius)

Frank E. Rheindt, Jürgen Gadau, Christoph Peter Strehl, Bert Hölldobler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


High effective multiple queen mating is a rare but taxonomically widespread phenomenon in eusocial Hymenoptera that has arisen convergently in several taxa. In ants, high effective mating frequencies have been confirmed in only two clades: the higher leaf-cutters (Atta, Acromyrmex) and the Pogonomyrmex seed harvesters. We analysed polyandry in Pogonomyrmex badius, which has a life-history unique within the genus, and report the highest numerical mating frequencies thus far recorded in ants. We also show that P. badius is characterized by one of the highest effective mating frequencies hitherto found in ants. It is now clear that all major subclades of Pogonomyrmex sensu stricto exhibit high levels of polyandry. Therefore, multiple mating must have arisen early in the evolution of the genus, and may have constituted a mechanism to increase offspring variability for queens that were confronted with increasingly complex levels of organization. Too few congeners have been investigated by the same method to be certain that polyandry in P. badius is really higher than in the rest of the genus. If so, research should concentrate on a possible link between high queen mating frequency and the distinct caste system found in P. badius.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-481
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Effective mating frequency
  • Multiple mating
  • Pogonomyrmex badius
  • Polyandry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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