Using social parasitism to test reproductive skew models in a primitively eusocial wasp

Green, Jonathan P, Cant, Michael A and Field, Jeremy (2014) Using social parasitism to test reproductive skew models in a primitively eusocial wasp. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281 (1789). ISSN 0962-8452

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Remarkable variation exists in the distribution of reproduction (skew) among members of cooperatively breeding groups, both within and between species. Reproductive skew theory has provided an important framework for understanding this variation. In the primitively eusocial Hymenoptera, two models have been routinely tested: concessions models, which assume complete control of reproduction by a dominant individual, and tug-of-war models, which assume on-going competition among group members over reproduction. Current data provide little support for either model, but uncertainty about the ability of individuals to detect genetic relatedness and difficulties in identifying traits conferring competitive ability mean that the relative importance of concessions versus tug-of-war remains unresolved. Here, we suggest that the use of social parasitism to generate meaningful variation in key social variables represents a valuable opportunity to explore the mechanisms underpinning reproductive skew within the social Hymenoptera. We present a direct test of concessions and tug-of-war models in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus by exploiting pronounced changes in relatedness and power structures that occur following replacement of the dominant by a congeneric social parasite. Comparisons of skew in parasitized and unparasitized colonies are consistent with a tug-of-war over reproduction within P. dominulus groups, but provide no evidence for reproductive concessions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: GTA studentship funding to JPG
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology
Depositing User: Jill Kirby
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2014 15:36
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 22:24

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Unrelated helpers in social waspsG0112NERC-NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCILNE/E017894/1