Colony genetic structure in a facultatively eusocial hover wasp

Bolton, Alan, Sumner, Seirian, Shreeves, Gavin, Casiraghi, Maurizio and Field, Jeremy (2006) Colony genetic structure in a facultatively eusocial hover wasp. Behavioral Ecology, 17 (6). pp. 873-880. ISSN 1045-2249

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The degree of genetic heterogeneity among the individuals in an animal society depends on the society's genetic structure. Genetic heterogeneity, in turn, means that group members will differ in their reproductive objectives and conflicts over reproduction may arise. The resolution of these conflicts may be reflected in the way that reproduction is partitioned between potential reproductives. We used 5 microsatellite loci to investigate genetic structure and reproductive skew in 17 nests of the Malaysian hover wasp, Parischnogaster alternata. Parischnogaster alternata colonies are small (1¿10 females), and all adult colony members are capable of mating and producing offspring. We found that colonies tended to consist of closely related individuals and that at any one time the production of both female and male offspring was nearly always monopolized by a single dominant female, despite considerable variation between nests in parameters predicted to affect skew. Subordinate females that remained in their natal colonies obtained indirect fitness benefits by helping to raise offspring to which they were related. Subordinate females also appeared to be positioned within an age-based queue for inheritance of the dominant egg-laying position. We suggest that the high skew in P. alternata may result from strong ecological constraints on solitary nesting, high relatedness, and a relatively high probability that subordinates will eventually inherit the position of dominance.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Jeremy Field
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:16
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2012 15:56
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