Information gathering and conflict resolution in Polistes wasps

Green, Jonathan Philip (2012) Information gathering and conflict resolution in Polistes wasps. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Signals are used to communicate resource-holding potential (RHP) to rivals during
contests across a wide range of taxa. A controversial subset of RHP signals are status
signals. In the last decade, research on North American populations of the paper wasp
Polistes dominulus has provided evidence for a visual status signal based on variable
clypeal patterns. However, observations of P. dominulus in its native European range
indicate that the use of status signals across populations might be limited in this species.
In Part I of this thesis (Chapters 3-5), I investigate status signalling in a Spanish
population of P. dominulus. Using choice experiments, I show that clypeal patterns do
not signal RHP in the Spanish population. Using large-scale field observations and
microsatellite sequencing, I then show that patterns do not reflect individual quality in
the wild. Together, these results strongly suggest that the clypeal pattern does not
function in conflict resolution in the Spanish population. I conclude Part I by exploring
the development of the clypeal patterns. I show that pattern expression is strongly
temperature-dependent. This finding may provide an explanation for the variation in the
signal value of clypeal patterns between populations.

Contests among paper wasps are not limited to conspecific interactions, but may involve
interactions with social parasites. In Parts II and III of this thesis (Chapters 6-7), I
explore interactions between P. dominulus and the social parasite P. semenowi in the
contexts of nest usurpation and conflict over reproduction. By experimentally staging
usurpation contests, I show that neither parasites nor hosts gather information about
rivals during nest usurpation. I then compare reproduction in parasitised and
unparasitised colonies to test the predictions of competing models of reproductive skew.
Incomplete control models receive qualified support; however, assumptions of skew
models about players’ information gathering abilities are questioned.

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
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2012 08:25
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 14:24

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