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Selfish Larvae: Development and the Evolution of Parasitic Behavior in the Hymenoptera
Peter Nonacs and John E. Tobin
Vol. 46, No. 6 (Dec., 1992), pp. 1605-1620
Published by: Society for the Study of Evolution
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410019
Page Count: 16
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Queens of hymenopteran social parasites manipulate the workers of other social species into raising their offspring. However, nonconspecific brood care may also allow the parasite larvae to control their own development to a greater extent than possible in nonparasitic species. An evolutionary consequence of this may be the loss of the parasite's worker caste if the larvae can increase their fitness by developing into sexuals rather than workers. We argue that this loss is particularly likely in species in which there is little inclusive fitness benefit in working. Retention of a worker caste correlates with characteristics that increase the fitness of working relative to becoming a sexual, such as worker-production of males, high intracolony relatedness, and seasonal environments where the hosts of potential parasite queens are not always available. Further evidence strongly suggests that when the worker caste is evolutionarily lost in perennial species like ants, it disappears rapidly and through a reduction in caste threshold and queen size, so that parasite larvae become queens with less food than required to produce host workers. This evolutionary process, however, appears to lower overall population fitness, resulting in workerless parasite species having small populations and being geographically restricted. Conversely, in annual species like bees and wasps, workerless social parasitism evolves with no size reduction in queens, which is consistent with an expected lower level of queen/offspring conflict.
Evolution © 1992 Society for the Study of Evolution