Document Detail

Direct assessment of queen quality and lack of worker suppression in a paper wasp.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16006333     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Assessing a conspecific's potential is often crucial to increase one's fitness, e.g. in female choice, contests with rivals or reproductive conflicts in animal societies. In the latter, helpers benefit from accurately assessing the fertility of the breeder as an indication of inclusive fitness. There is evidence that this can be achieved using chemical correlates of reproductive activity. Here, we show that queen quality can be assessed by directly monitoring her reproductive output. In the paper wasp Polistes dominulus, we mimicked a decrease in queen fertility by regularly removing brood. This triggered ovarian development and egg-laying by many workers, which strongly suggests that brood abundance is a reliable cue of queen quality. Brood abundance can be monitored when workers perform regular brood care in small size societies where each brood element is kept in a separate cell. Our results also show that although the queen was not manipulated, and thus remained healthy and fully fertile, she did not control worker egg-laying. Nevertheless, when workers laid eggs, the queen secured a near reproductive monopoly by selectively destroying these eggs, a mechanism known as 'queen policing'. By contrast, workers destroyed comparatively few queen-laid eggs, but did destroy each other's eggs.
Jürgen Liebig; Thibaud Monnin; Stefano Turillazzi
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  272     ISSN:  0962-8452     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2005 Jul 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2005-07-11     Completed Date:  2005-09-01     Revised Date:  2013-06-09    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1339-44     Citation Subset:  IM    
LS Verhaltensphysiologie und Soziobiologie, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany.
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MeSH Terms
Fertility / physiology
Population Density
Reproduction / physiology
Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
Social Dominance*
Video Recording
Wasps / physiology*

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