Focus: Luque, G., Giraud, T. & Courchamp, F. (2013) Allee effects in ants. Journal of Animal Ecology,. 82, 956–965.
Allee effects, positive relationships between fitness and the number or density of conspecifics, are surprisingly widespread and are of profound importance for understanding ecological dynamics. Lucque et al. (2013) provide the first explicit demonstration of Allee effects in a social insect. Using laboratory colonies of the Argentine ant, they show that there are component Allee effects of both workers and queens which interact with negative frequency-dependent effects. Such Allee effects are central to the ecology and evolution of social insects, the societies of which provide a rich, experimentally tractable resource for understanding the mechanisms and impact of Allee effects.
Allee effects are surprisingly widespread and are of profound importance for understanding ecological dynamics. This paper highlights a study by Luque, Giraud & Courchamp (2013) demonstrating Allee effects in ants, and places this in the context of the wider role of such effects in social insects.