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When Resistance Is Useless: Policing and the Evolution of Reproductive Acquiescence in Insect Societies

Tom Wenseleers, Adam G. Hart and Francis L. W. Ratnieks
The American Naturalist
Vol. 164, No. 6 (December 2004), pp. E154-E167
DOI: 10.1086/425223
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/425223
Page Count: 14
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When Resistance Is Useless: Policing and the Evolution of Reproductive Acquiescence in Insect Societies
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Abstract

Abstract: In social groups composed of kin, inclusive fitness benefits can favor greater cooperation. Alternatively, cooperation can be enforced through the policing of less cooperative individuals. Here, we show that the effect of policing can be twofold: not only can it directly suppress individual selfishness, it can also entirely remove the incentive for individuals to act selfishly in the first place. We term such individual restraint in response to socially imposed policing “acquiescence” and illustrate the concept using examples drawn from the social Hymenoptera (the ants, bees, and wasps). Inclusive fitness models confirm that when a policing system is in place, individuals should be less tempted to act selfishly. This is shown to have important consequences for the resolution of conflict within their societies. For example, it can explain why in many species very few workers attempt to reproduce and why immature females usually do not attempt to develop as queens rather than workers. Although our analyses are primarily focused on the social insects, our conclusions are likely to be general and to apply to other societies as well.

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