Polygyny in east African acacia-ants

Crematogaster mimosae swarming on the outside of an Acacia drepanolobium thorn in Kenya.

Crematogaster mimosae swarming on the outside of an Acacia drepanolobium thorn in Kenya.

My undergraduate thesis at Cornell University examined the nest structure of an east African acacia-ant, Crematogaster mimosae. These ants have very similar behavior to the Pseudomyrmex plant-ants that I studied during my PhD, protecting their host plants against herbivores and disease. I developed microsatellite markers for this species and, with the collaborative efforts of Ross Anderson and Devin Kennedy, developed a method for using these data to infer the number of queens present in each colony. I found that polygyny is common in this species and is possibly a result of the intense nest-site competition among these ants. I reported these findings in Insectes Sociaux.