Population and colony structure and morphometrics in the queen dimorphic harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex pima

R. A. Johnson, C. T. Holbrook, C. Strehl, Juergen Gadau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The North American seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex (Ephebomyrmex) pima displays a dimorphism that consists of winged (alate) and wingless (intermorph) queens; both types of queens are fully reproductive. Microsatellite allele frequencies and a mitochondrial phylogeny demonstrate (1) alate and intermorph queens represent an intraspecific wing polymorphism, and (2) an absence of assortative mating and inbreeding by males. Surveys at our field site in southcentral Arizona, USA, demonstrated that only one type of queen (intermorph or dealate) occurred in each colony, including those excavated during the season in which reproductive sexuals were present. Colony structure appeared to vary by queen type as most intermorph colonies contained multiple mated queens. Alternatively, dealate queen colonies rarely contained a mated queen. Our inability to find mated dealate queens in these colonies probably resulted from difficulty in excavating the entire colony and reproductive queen, especially given that these colonies were only excavated over one day. A morphometric analysis demonstrated that intermorph queens are intermediate in size to that of workers and alate queens, but that intermorph queens retain all of the specialized anatomical features of alate queens (except for wings). Some colonies had queens that foraged and performed nest maintenance activities, and these queens sometimes accounted for a significant portion of colony foraging trips. Dissections revealed that these queens were uninseminated; some of these queens produced males in the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Intermorph queen
  • Lineage analysis
  • Morphometrics
  • Polyphenism
  • Queen dimorphism
  • Queen foraging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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