Population and colony structure and morphometrics in the queen dimorphic little black ant, Monomorium sp. AZ-02, with a review of queen phenotypes in the genus Monomorium

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The North American little black ant, Monomorium sp. AZ-02 (subfamily Myrmicinae), displays a dimorphism that consists of alate (winged) and ergatoid (wingless) queens. Surveys at our field site in southcentral

The North American little black ant, Monomorium sp. AZ-02 (subfamily Myrmicinae), displays a dimorphism that consists of alate (winged) and ergatoid (wingless) queens. Surveys at our field site in southcentral Arizona, USA, demonstrated that only one queen phenotype (alate or ergatoid) occurred in each colony during the season in which reproductive sexuals were produced. A morphometric analysis demonstrated that ergatoid queens retained all specialized anatomical features of alate queens (except for wings), and that they were significantly smaller and had a lower mass than alate queens. Using eight morphological characters, a discriminant analysis correctly categorized all queens (40 of 40) of both phenotypes. A molecular phylogeny using 420 base pairs of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I demonstrated that alate and ergatoid queens are two alternative phenotypes within the species; both phenotypes were intermixed on our phylogeny, and both phenotypes often displayed the same haplotype. A survey of the genus Monomorium (358 species) found that wingless queens (ergatoid queens, brachypterous queens) occur in 42 of 137 species (30.6%) in which the queen has been described. These wingless queen species are geographically and taxonomically widespread as they occur on several continents and in eight species groups, suggesting that winglessness probably arose independently on many occasions in the genus.