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Why are there multiple-foundress colonies in Ropalidia marginata?

Shakarad, Mallikarjuna and Gadagkar, Raghavendra (1996) Why are there multiple-foundress colonies in Ropalidia marginata? [Book Chapter]


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Female wasps of the primitively eusocial species Ropalidia marginata found new colonies either singly or in groups of individuals ranging in number from 2-22, more or less throughout the year. In a twelvemonth study in Bangalore, it was found that 35% of newly initiated colonies were single foundress colonies, whereas 65% were multiple foundress colonies. In multiple foundress colonies, only one individual becomes the queen or egg layer, while the remaining perform the role of sterile workers. This is usually thought to be decided by aggressive interactions among foundresses. But, it was found that in 3 out of 5 colonies, the queen was not the behaviourally most dominant individual. Although there is a significant increase in productivity as the number of foundresses increase, the per capita productivity does not increase as a function of group size. The brood reared in multiple foundress colonies is likely to be less related to the workers than their own offspring would have been. The main reason for assuming the role of a sterile worker under such "unfavourable" conditions appears to be the hope that workers will eventually become queens.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publication: Readings in Behaviour
Publisher: New Age International Limited
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to New Age International Limited.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:34
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/9484

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