Eusociality represents an extreme form of social behavior characterized by a reproductive division of labor. Eusociality necessarily evolved through kin selection, which requires interactions among related individuals. However, many eusocial taxa also show cooperation between non-kin groups, challenging the idea that cooperative actions should only occur among relatives. This review explores the causes and consequences of non-kin cooperation in ants. Ants display a diversity of behaviors that lead to non-kin cooperation within and between species. These interactions occur among both reproductive and non-reproductive individuals. The proximate and ultimate mechanisms leading to non-kin cooperative interactions differ substantially depending on the biotic and abiotic environment. We end this review with directions for future research and suggest that the investigation of non-kin cooperative actions provides insight into processes leading to social evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number736757
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
StatePublished - Oct 7 2021


  • conflict
  • cooperation
  • foundress associations
  • haplometrosis
  • mutualism
  • parabiosis
  • pleometrosis
  • polygyny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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