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Cooperation and conflict in an insect society

Gadagkar, Raghavendra (1995) Cooperation and conflict in an insect society. In: Journal of Indian Institute of Science, 75 . pp. 333-352.


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Cooperation and conflict are inevitable consequences whenever a group of individuals get together, be they groups of self-replicating molecules or groups of warring nations. This paper gives an overview of my research using the tropical primitively eusocial paper wasp Ropalidia marginata, aimed at understanding the factors that modulate cooperation and conflict in an insect society. Hamilton's rule provides an excellent theoretical framework not only for investigating the role of genetic relatedness in modulating the levels of cooperation and conflict, as has been done so extensively in the last 30 years, but also for focussing on other factors, when genetic relatedness may be relatively unimportant. Polyandry or multiple mating by queens of R. marginata and serial polygyny or the frequent change in queens, breakdown the genetic asymmetries created by haplodiploidy and make it genetically less advantageous to be a worker, than theoretically expected. Intra-colony kin recognition abilities appear not to be so well developed as to facilitate nepotism in the face of intra-colony genetic variability.Artificial colonies with highly elevated levels of genetic variability appear to be in distinguishable from natural colonies.We have therefore investigated the possibility that social behaviour in insect societies is at least in part mutualistic. The response of wasps to alien conspecifics in the context of their nestS and outside,suggest that factors other than genetic relatedness such as inter-individual assessments facilitated by impressive cognitive abilities, may play a significant role in modulating the levels of cooperation and conflict.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Journal of Indian Institute of Science
Publisher: Indian Institute of Science
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Indian Institute of Science.
Keywords: Cooperation;Conflict;Insect society;Kin recognition
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2006
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:32
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/8746

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