Unrelated Helpers in a Primitively Eusocial Wasp: Is Helping Tailored Towards Direct Fitness?

Leadbeater, Ellouise, Carruthers, Jonathan M, Green, Jonathan P, van Heusden, Jasper and Field, Jeremy (2010) Unrelated Helpers in a Primitively Eusocial Wasp: Is Helping Tailored Towards Direct Fitness? PLoS ONE, 5 (8). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

The paper wasp Polistes dominulus is unique among the social insects in that nearly one-third of co-foundresses are completely unrelated to the dominant individual whose offspring they help to rear and yet reproductive skew is high. These unrelated subordinates stand to gain direct fitness through nest inheritance, raising the question of whether their behaviour is adaptively tailored towards maximizing inheritance prospects. Unusually, in this species, a wealth of theory and empirical data allows us to predict how unrelated subordinates should behave. Based on these predictions, here we compare helping in subordinates that are unrelated or related to the dominant wasp across an extensive range of field-based behavioural contexts. We find no differences in foraging effort, defense behaviour, aggression or inheritance rank between unrelated helpers and their related counterparts. Our study provides no evidence, across a number of behavioural scenarios, that the behaviour of unrelated subordinates is adaptively modified to promote direct fitness interests.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Elli Leadbeater
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:28
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 04:42
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/26049

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