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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Sep 15, 1993; 90(18): 8412–8414.

Fighting for a harem of queens: physiology of reproduction in Cardiocondyla male ants.


Several species of the ant genus Cardiocondyla produce dimorphic males, which exhibit sharply different mating strategies. Winged males typically disperse to mate outside the nest, whereas wingless, ergatoid males stay in the nest and aggressively employ their mandibles against competing ergatoid males to monopolize the virgin queens eclosing in the nest. Such aggressive mating strategy would only be adaptive if the males had unlimited sperm supply. Histological studies showed that, contrary to the rule in the Hymenoptera order, the ergatoid Cardiocondyla males are indeed able to produce sperm during their entire adult life. Winged males, on the other hand, have only a limited sperm supply since spermatogenesis ceases in the late pupal stage.

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Selected References

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  • Wheeler DE, Krutzsch PH. Internal reproductive system in adult males of the genus Camponotus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Formicinae). J Morphol. 1992 Mar;211(3):307–317. [PubMed]
  • Spurr AR. A low-viscosity epoxy resin embedding medium for electron microscopy. J Ultrastruct Res. 1969 Jan;26(1):31–43. [PubMed]

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