Genetic structure of the Black Bog Ant (Formica picea Nylander) in the United Kingdom

S. D. Rees, G. M. Orledge, M. W. Bruford, A. F. G. Bourke

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5 Citations (SciVal)


Social Hymenoptera have been relatively little studied in terms of conservation genetics even though their sociality and complementary sex determination potentially influence the interaction of genetics with extinction risk. Using microsatellite markers, we investigated the social and genetic structure of nests and populations of the Black Bog Ant Formica picea at four sites in the UK, where this habitat specialist has a localized and fragmented range. Nests were weakly polygynous (effective queen number, 4-27 per nest) with low worker relatedness. Isolation by distance tended to be present within sites, indicating limited dispersal, but inbreeding was rare. The four study sites fell into three main populations (two in South Wales, one in southern England). We conclude that, although UK F. picea populations are not at immediate risk from genetic factors, their limited dispersal abilities at both within- and between-site scales should inform conservation management decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-834
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • social insect
  • relatedness
  • isolation by distance
  • inbreeding
  • habitat specialist
  • polygyny


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