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Queen longevity and fecundity affect conflict with workers over resource inheritance in a social insect

Queen longevity and fecundity affect conflict with workers over resource inheritance in a social insect
Queen longevity and fecundity affect conflict with workers over resource inheritance in a social insect

Resource inheritance is a major source of conflict in animal societies. However, the assumptions and predictions of models of conflict over resource inheritance have not been systematically tested within a single system. We developed an inclusive fitness model for annual eusocial Hymenoptera that predicts a zone of conflict in which future reproductive workers are selected to enforce nest inheritance before the queen is selected to cede the nest. We experimentally tested key elements of this model in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. In colonies from which queens were sequentially removed, queen tenure was significantly negatively associated with worker male production, confirming that workers gain direct fitness by usurping the queen. In unmanipulated colonies, queen fecundity decreased significantly over the latter part of the colony cycle, confirming that workers’ indirect fitness from maintaining queens declines over time. Finally, in an experiment simulating loss of queen fecundity by removal of queens’ eggs, worker-to-queen aggression increased significantly and aggressive workers were significantly more likely to become egg layers, consistent with workers monitoring queen fecundity to assess the net benefit of future reproduction. Overall, by upholding key assumptions and predictions of the model, our results provide novel empirical support for kin-selected conflict over resource inheritance.

Bumblebee, Kin selection, Resource inheritance, Social insect, Worker reproduction
0003-0147
256-266
Almond, Edward J.
cc3a261b-51af-49db-86f0-521c84ad5fe9
Huggins, Timothy J.
e73438a7-8180-4082-95e4-0b28b48684f9
Crowther, Liam P.
1ebe9256-e43b-49e7-b5ee-e53a1ce9acb3
Parker, Joel D.
23c6e137-cc5c-4ea1-a9b2-c87d750a68f5
Bourke, Andrew F.G.
74dea7af-cba7-4aeb-997c-cb615e9f0186
Almond, Edward J.
cc3a261b-51af-49db-86f0-521c84ad5fe9
Huggins, Timothy J.
e73438a7-8180-4082-95e4-0b28b48684f9
Crowther, Liam P.
1ebe9256-e43b-49e7-b5ee-e53a1ce9acb3
Parker, Joel D.
23c6e137-cc5c-4ea1-a9b2-c87d750a68f5
Bourke, Andrew F.G.
74dea7af-cba7-4aeb-997c-cb615e9f0186

Almond, Edward J., Huggins, Timothy J., Crowther, Liam P., Parker, Joel D. and Bourke, Andrew F.G. (2019) Queen longevity and fecundity affect conflict with workers over resource inheritance in a social insect. The American Naturalist, 193 (2), 256-266. (doi:10.1086/701299).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Resource inheritance is a major source of conflict in animal societies. However, the assumptions and predictions of models of conflict over resource inheritance have not been systematically tested within a single system. We developed an inclusive fitness model for annual eusocial Hymenoptera that predicts a zone of conflict in which future reproductive workers are selected to enforce nest inheritance before the queen is selected to cede the nest. We experimentally tested key elements of this model in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. In colonies from which queens were sequentially removed, queen tenure was significantly negatively associated with worker male production, confirming that workers gain direct fitness by usurping the queen. In unmanipulated colonies, queen fecundity decreased significantly over the latter part of the colony cycle, confirming that workers’ indirect fitness from maintaining queens declines over time. Finally, in an experiment simulating loss of queen fecundity by removal of queens’ eggs, worker-to-queen aggression increased significantly and aggressive workers were significantly more likely to become egg layers, consistent with workers monitoring queen fecundity to assess the net benefit of future reproduction. Overall, by upholding key assumptions and predictions of the model, our results provide novel empirical support for kin-selected conflict over resource inheritance.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 21 September 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 26 December 2018
Published date: 1 February 2019
Keywords: Bumblebee, Kin selection, Resource inheritance, Social insect, Worker reproduction

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428328
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428328
ISSN: 0003-0147
PURE UUID: 62e6bc6b-2366-4ee6-bfee-3381652c2475

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Date deposited: 21 Feb 2019 17:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 17:33

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