Correlates and Consequences of Worker Polymorphism in Ants

Bill D. Wills, Scott Powell, Michael D. Rivera, Andrew V. Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Body size is a key life-history trait influencing all aspects of an organism's biology. Ants provide an interesting model for examining body-size variation because of the high degree of worker polymorphism seen in many taxa. We review worker-size variation in ants from the perspective of factors internal and external to the colony that may influence body-size distributions. We also discuss proximate and ultimate causes of size variation and how variation in worker size can promote worker efficiency and colony fitness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-598
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
StatePublished - Jan 7 2018


  • body size
  • division of labor
  • eusociality
  • life-history traits
  • ultimate and proximate mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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