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Open Access: CC BY 4.0


de la Mora, A., Sankovitz, M. & Purcell, J.

Year: 2020


Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as host and intruder: recent advances and future directions in the study of exploitative strategies

Journal: Myrmecological News

Volume: 30

Pages: 53-71

Type of contribution: Review Article

Supplementary material: Yes, see below


Despite their reputation for building fortress-like colonies, ants and other social insects have many natural enemies that can infiltrate and exploit them. This profitable strategy, which allows individuals to reap collective benefits while paying few costs of cooperation, has evolved repeatedly in ants. Here, we review recent advances in the study of social parasitism, with three goals: (1) consider how social parasitism arises within the ants, (2) examine the exploitative and defensive tactics employed by parasites and hosts at each stage of their interactions, and (3) integrate recent social parasite species discoveries into an overview of the biogeographic distribution of social parasites. We focus on three common types of interspecific social parasitism: temporary, queen-killing parasites, permanent inquilines (which are usually, but not always, queen-tolerant), and dulotic species that steal heterospecific brood to build their own workforce. We consider only superficially intraspecific interactions and interspecific associations that appear to walk the line between commensal and parasitic. Through our classification of the components of social parasite evolution and our updated assessment of social parasite biogeography, we identify several knowledge gaps in the field and close with some proposed strategies and priorities for future research.

Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0. © 2020 The Author(s).

Key words: Dulosis, inquiline, temporary social parasite, social parasitism, coevolution, biogeography, latitudinal diversity gradient, review.

Publisher: The Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics

ISSN: 1997-3500