Genetic structure, reproductive skew, and the evolution of sociality in the hover wasp Liostenogaster flavolineata

Holt, Lauren Adele (2016) Genetic structure, reproductive skew, and the evolution of sociality in the hover wasp Liostenogaster flavolineata. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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In this thesis, I use field experiments to test whether a potentially universal benefit of sociality
operates in the facultatively eusocial hover wasp Liostenogaster flavolineata (Stenogastrinae).
The Central Limit Theorem (CLT) is a potential reason why individuals come together
to provision offspring. I report the results of an original experiment designed to test the
central tenets of the CLT by manipulating the variance of food inputs to L. flavolineata
nests. I show that with increased variance there was no effect on levels of brood abortion, or
larval development rates. However, some assumptions of the CLT were found to hold, such
as smaller groups producing more brood per-capita with higher rates of brood removal.

Theoretically, genetic relatedness between adult nest-mates should have an important
influence on how reproduction is partitioned (reproductive skew). However, reproductive
skew in newly initiated colonies of L. flavolineata, where nest-mate relatedness is low, is not
significantly different to that in mature colonies, and is unaffected by group size.

Genetic relatedness between subordinates and the dominant egg-layer could potentially
vary systematically according to position in the age-based queue to inherit the egg-laying
role in L. flavolineata groups. Using newly developed microsatellite markers, in combination
with manipulations to determine queue position, I test for systematic associations between
a worker’s relationship to the dominant, inheritance rank and group size. I find that there is
an increasing likelihood for daughters and nieces to occur at the lowest ranks, i.e. those with
the greatest indirect fitness pay-offs and greatest foraging effort.

I also investigate how genetic relatedness and group size influence foraging effort,
and suggest that smaller groups might experience effects of the CLT, but work harder to
compensate. I integrate theories of reproductive skew and my findings from L. flavolineata
into a framework of potential behavioural concessions in larger groups.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0360 Invertebrates > QL0434 Arthropoda > QL0463 Insects > QL0563 Hymenoptera
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 08:12
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2017 13:26

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