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Kin recognition in a semi-natural context: Behaviour towards foreign conspecifics in the social wasp Ropalidia marginata (Lep.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae

Venkataraman, A and Gadagkar, R (1992) Kin recognition in a semi-natural context: Behaviour towards foreign conspecifics in the social wasp Ropalidia marginata (Lep.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae. In: Insectes Sociaux, 39 (3). pp. 285-299.

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Female wasps of the tropical primitively eusocial species Ropalidia marginata are known to discriminate unfamiliar nestmates from unfamiliar non-nestmates outside the context of their nests. Here, we show that when foreign conspecifics are introduced in the context of a nest in laboratory cages, genetic relatives among them are treated by nest inhabitants more tolerantly than nonrelatives, but that no foreign conspecifics are accepted into the nests. However, some wasps may leave their nest and join the foreign relatives and non-relatives to found new colonies cooperatively. Very few of the introduced animals are severely attacked or killed; most are allowed to remain in parts of the cage away from the nest. These results suggest that factors other than genetic relatedness maybe involved in regulating tolerance and acceptance of foreign conspecifics on a nest and its vicinity. Our results are different from those of similar experiments with ants, which have demonstrated that former nestmates that are removed as pupae and later introduced as adults are either accepted into the nest or attacked and killed. We attribute this difference to the fact that in a primitively eusocial species such as R. marginata, the rules governing tolerance and acceptance of foreign conspecifics must be quite different from those in highly eusocial species. We also attempt to test some predictions of the conspecific acceptance threshold models of Reeve (Am. Nat. 133:407-435,1989). Our results uphold the predictions of his "fitness consequence submodel" but do not support those of his "interaction frequency sub-model".

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Insectes Sociaux
Publisher: Birkhäuser Basel
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Birkhäuser Basel.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:34
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/9445

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