Investigating Patterns of Variation in Reproductive Dispersal and Wolbachia Infection in Malagasy Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
I examined patterns of variation in queen dispersal state and Wolbachia infection in Malagasy ants. My first study compared intraspecific genetic divergence between reproductive dispersal states. Using calculations of isolation by distance (IBD), all species with ergatoid (wingless) queens exhibited IBD as a result of short distance dispersal. The majority of species possessing alate (winged) queens also exhibited IBD despite their ability to travel farther distances. Alate body size was hypothesized to influence IBD, but this was not supported and requires further investigation. My second study investigated the prevalence of Wolbachia, a genus of endosymbiotic bacteria, in ants. Overall, 61.67% of species were infected and no correlation was observed between infection and ant queen dispersal state. Furthermore, DNA extracted from somatic tissue did not underestimate Wolbachia detection as was previously thought. Dispersal and Wolbachia infection influence reproductive outcomes in ants and are important factors for future investigations of genetic diversity.