This guest post is by Pleuni Pennings on the paper “Oh sister, where art thou? Indirect fitness benefit could maintain a host defense trait”, available from the arXiv here. This is cross-posted from her website here
Tobias Pamminger, Susanne Foitzik, Dirk Metzler and I analyzed the small scale spatial structure of ants of the species Temnothorax longispinosus. These ants are the host of a slavemaking ant. The slavemakers go on raids, and steal young from the host species to work as slaves in their nests. We wanted to know whether the slaves still have relatives in the nearby nests. If they do, then their behavior – which influences the slavemakers – could have an effect on their relatives and therefore on their indirect fitness.
To find out if slaves are related to their neighbours, we collected lots of ant nests (they nest in acorns), both in New York and in West Virginia, marked exactly where we found them and genotyped them at six microsatellites.
Our main conclusion is that the enslaved ants are indeed related to their neighbors. The manuscript can be found on the arXiv here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.0790
The manuscript was peer-reviewed at Peerage of Science, a new and very useful community of scientists who agree to review each others papers fairly. See http://www.peerageofscience.org/
The manuscript is part of Tobias Pamminger’s PhD thesis. Tobias defends his thesis this week in Mainz!! Congrats Tobias!
Tobias came up with the awesome title for the paper “Oh sister, where art thou? Indirect fitness benefit could maintain a host defense trait.”