There is little known about the life history of the imperiled harvester ant Pogonomyrmex comanche. Due to the conservation status, there is a need to learn and understand how these ants are dispersing their genetics within the region. This study focused on resolving uncertainties about genetic diversity, mating frequencies, and habitat associations influencing distribution of this species. It’s well known and studied that queens of different species within this genus take part in multiple mating; but to determine if P. comanchefollows the other species, microsatellite markers were used to conduct paternal analysis on the colonies collected from Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. The genetic relationship between populations collected for this study was determined through the construction of a rooted maximum likelihood tree and a haplotype network, as well as through the analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA). Both the tree and the haplotype showed similar pairings between the collection sites with high bootstrap support of greater than 80. These results show that there is no gene flow between the populations. The AMOVA and neutrality results were indicative of high differentiation among the populations under neutral conditions. In determining the mating habits of this species, microsatellite markers were used in conjunction with the software matesoft. The results showed that at least 72% of the colonies collected from Camp Swift in Bastrop TX participate in multiple mating. The ecological model identified the best habitats for the species across the known range of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana. The most important climate variable for their occurrence is minimum temperature. These ants are important ecological engineers as they are a major promoter of seed dispersal. The more we know about these ants and their life histories, the better we can create and implement conservation actions.

Date of publication

Spring 5-9-2018

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Kate Hertweck, Jon Seal, Katrin Kellner


Masters of Science in Biology

Included in

Biology Commons