SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

Journal Article (Refereed)
July 2014

Nest-mate recognition cues are not used during or influenced by mating in the ant Formica exsecta

Martin, S & Shemilt, S & Trontti, K 2014, 'Nest-mate recognition cues are not used during or influenced by mating in the ant Formica exsecta', Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 26, pp.40-48.


A wide range of mating isolating mechanisms has evolved to avoid mating with close relatives. In mating aggregations that commonly occur in social insects (bees, wasps and ants) sexual’s from the same colony can potential be present, so some type of colony-recognition system would be useful to avoid inbreeding. In the ant Formica exsecta colony-specific (Z)9-alkenes profiles are used by workers to distinguish nest-mates from non nest-mates, so this information has the potential to be employed in  mating behaviour, i.e. to recognise potential mates, avoid inbreeding and indicate mating status. However, in F. exsecta queens, we found no consistent quantitative or qualitative differences in the CHC profiles between males and queens or any changes associated with mating in queens. Neither did the (Z)9-alkene recognition profile appear to be acting as pre-mating barrier, since successful mating occurred across a wide range CHC profiles. The main pre-mating barrier in F. exsecta appears to be the sequentially production of males followed by queens coupled with a long mating period, a strategy adopted by many social insects.



SEEK Members

External Authors

K Trontti

Sue Shemilt

Publication Details

Journal Name
Ethology Ecology & Evolution