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Do unicolonial wood ants favor kin?

Heikki Helanterä

Author Affiliations

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland

Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK

Journal of Biology 2009, 8:56  doi:10.1186/jbiol154

Published: 18 June 2009


Vast supercolonies of interconnected nests formed by unicolonial ant species are the largest cooperative groups of animals known. Research published recently in BMC Evolutionary Biology reveals that a supercolony can be more genetically structured than previously thought, comprising several extended families. Surprisingly, the families coexist peacefully, even though they seem to recognize each other as non-kin.