Description

Pogonomyrmex californicus (a species of harvester ant) colonies typically have anywhere from one to five queens. A queen can control the ratio of female to male offspring she produces, field

Pogonomyrmex californicus (a species of harvester ant) colonies typically have anywhere from one to five queens. A queen can control the ratio of female to male offspring she produces, field research indicating that this ratio is genetically hardwired and does not change over time relative to other queens. Further, a queen has an individual reproductive advantage if she has a small reproductive ratio. A colony, however, has a reproductive advantage if it has queens with large ratios, as these queens produce many female workers to further colony success. We have developed an agent-based model to analyze the "cheating" phenotype observed in field research, in which queens extend their lifespans by producing disproportionately many male offspring. The model generates phenotypes and simulates years of reproductive cycles. The results allow us to examine the surviving phenotypes and determine conditions under which a cheating phenotype has an evolutionary advantage. Conditions generating a bimodal steady state solution would indicate a cheating phenotype's ability to invade a cooperative population.

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