Insurance-based advantages for subordinate co-foundresses in a temperate paper wasp

Shreeves, Gavin, Cant, Michael A, Bolton, Alan and Field, Jeremy (2003) Insurance-based advantages for subordinate co-foundresses in a temperate paper wasp. Proceedings B: Biological Sciences, 270 (1524). pp. 1617-1622. ISSN 1471-2954

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Recent explanations for the evolution of eusociality, focusing more on costs and benefits than relatedness, are largely untested. We validate one such model by showing that helpers in foundress groups of the paper wasp Polistes dominulus benefit from an insurance¿based mechanism known as Assured Fitness Returns (AFRs). Experimental helper removals left remaining group members with more offspring than they would normally rear. Reduced groups succeeded in preserving the dead helpers' investment by rearing these extra offspring, even when helper removals occurred long before worker emergence. While helpers clearly gained from AFRs, offspring of lone foundresses failed after foundress death, so that AFRs represent a true advantage for helpers. Smaller, less valuable offspring were probably sacrificed to feed larger offspring, but reduced groups did not preferentially attract joiners or increase their foraging effort to compensate for their smaller workforce. We failed to detect a second insurance¿based advantage, Survivorship Insurance, in which larger groups are less likely to fail than smaller groups. We suggest that through their use of small offspring as a food store to cope with temporary shortages, wasps may be less susceptible than vertebrates to offspring failure following the death of group members.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Jeremy Field
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:14
Last Modified: 23 May 2012 14:13
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