Sex allocation in the polydomous leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex balzani
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Logistic regression analysis was used to analyse sex allocation in a population of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex balzani occurring in a pasture in southern Brazil. The field sample consisted of 151 fungus-garden chambers (18 queenright and 133 queenless), belonging to 50 nests with three vertically stacked chambers per nest on average. Taking nest chamber as the unit of analysis, seven predictor variables were considered: sampling date, chamber depth, chamber volume, weight of fungus garden, presence of a queen, number of large workers, and number of small to medium workers. The population-level numerical proportion of females was 0.548 and the inferred proportional energetic investment in females 0.672. The former was not significantly different from 0.5 (P=0.168), but the latter was (P=0.0003). The proportional investment in females per fungus garden increased with the number of large workers present (P=0.0002) and decreased with the dry weight of the fungus garden (P=0.012). This implies that resource acquisition through foraging is likely to be a major proximate determinant of sex allocation. The negative correlation between female bias and fungus garden weight might be due to developing adult females requiring more food than males, but this hypothesis could not be confirmed by direct statistical evidence.