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Asian Myrmecology, Volume 9, pages 1-14, online first (online version of paper published before print issue)

Nuptial flight of the Southeast Asian plant-ant Crematogaster captiosa (Forel, 1911) and the phenology of colony founding

BRIGITTE FIALA1 *, ROSLI BIN HASHIM2, KLAUS DUMPERT3 AND ULRICH MASCHWITZ4

1University of Würzburg, Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biocenter, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

2Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science Building, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3Im Maierbrühl 59, 70112 Freiburg, Germany

4Fachbereich Biowissenschaften, Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, present address: Anemonenweg 33, 63263 Neu-Isenburg, Germany.

Article first published online 16/October/2017

DOI: 10.20362/am.009013

Asian Myrmecology 9: e009013 (1-14)

© B. Fiala, R. Bin Hashim, K. Dumpert and U. Maschwitz

Abstract: Despite the great importance of nuptial flights for ants, little is known about the swarming processes from the highly diverse tropical regions, especially rainforests. This is particularly true for ants living in obligate symbiosis with myrmecophytic plants. Here we present the first direct observations of the swarming event in the association between Crematogaster captiosa and the pioneer tree Macaranga bancana in Southeast Asia. Nuptial flights of C. captiosa on M. bancana took place during the night, and alate females were seen to copulate with alate males on the tree. Data on C. captiosa from the Malay Peninsula as well as Borneo indicate that sexual production and colony founding occurs throughout the year. Despite episodic fruiting seasons of the host plants, Macaranga saplings for colony founding can also become available outside peak seasons from seed banks after disturbance. Therefore, continuous swarming might be a good strategy to avoid strong competition for limited nesting sites while still securing permanent colonisation of saplings - a prerequisite for their survival.

Keywords: Ant-plant, alate production, mating, Macaranga, myrmecophytes, swarming, reproduction

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