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Journal Article

Comparative Analysis of Worker Reproduction and Policing in Eusocial Hymenoptera Supports Relatedness Theory

Tom Wenseleers and Francis L. W. Ratnieks
The American Naturalist
Vol. 168, No. 6 (December 2006), pp. E163-E179
DOI: 10.1086/508619
Stable URL:
Page Count: 17

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Topics: Ants, Police services, Species, Worker insects, Eggs, Bees, Queen honey bees, Sons, Phylogeny, Insect colonies
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Abstract: In many bees, wasps, and ants, workers police each other in order to prevent individual workers from selfishly producing their own male offspring. Although several factors can selectively favor worker policing, genetic relatedness is considered to be of special importance. In particular, kin selection theory predicts that worker policing should be more common in species where workers are more related to the queen’s sons than to other workers’ sons. Here we provide strong novel support for this theory based on a comparative analysis of policing and male parentage in 109 species of ants, bees, and wasps. First, an analysis of behavioral data confirms that worker policing occurs more frequently in species where workers are more related to the queen’s sons than to other workers’ sons. Second, an analysis of male parentage shows that a significantly higher percentage of the males are workers’ sons in species where the workers are more related to other workers’ sons. Both conclusions also hold if data are analyzed using phylogenetically independent contrasts. Although our analysis provides strong overall support for the theory that relatedness affects kin conflict over male parentage, there is also significant residual variation. Several factors that may explain this variation are discussed.

Notes and References

This item contains 111 references.

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