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Foreword - The Evolution of Social Wasps by J.H.Hunt. Oxford University Press, Oxford

Gadagkar, R (2007) Foreword - The Evolution of Social Wasps by J.H.Hunt. Oxford University Press, Oxford. [Book Chapter]

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It is not surprising that insect societies have long intrigued and fascinated people. Their colonial life wi.th workers who help to rear the offspring of queens, caste system, divisi on of labor, and communication-not to mention cooperation, altruism, and suicide-have unmistakable parallels with the achievements and predicaments o f our own social lives. But evolutionary bio logists have an important additional reason to be intrigued and fascinated by insect societies. The origin and persistence of the sterile worker caste is a major evolutio nary puzzle, in many ways more puzzling than the evolution of the honey bee queen, capable of laying thousands of eggs per day, or the honey bee worker, capable of building perfectly hexagonal ce lls in a comb of wax during the first half of her life and estimating and communicating the distance and direction to newly discovered food sources by means of a symbolic dance language during the secon d half of her life. It is also more puzzling than the invention of agriculture through the cultivation of fungus gardens by leaf cuCter ants 50 million years ago o r the colonial o rganization of African army ants with more than 20 million workers weighing a total of more than 20 kg per colony. The reason for this is that steril ity and self-sacrifice are the last things we expect natural selection to promote . Not surprisingly, the evolution of a worker caste is the quintessential problem of the evolution of sociality.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Additional Information: copyright to this article belongs to OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Keywords: Social wasps, Inclusive fitness theory, Evolution of eusociality, Worker policing, Polistes
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2021 09:33
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2021 09:33
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/68275

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