Social insects

Cuticular lipids correlate with age and insemination status in queen honeybees

Eusocial insects exhibit reproductive division of labour, in which one or a few queens perform almost all of the reproduction, while the workers are largely sterile and assist in rearing their siblings. Consequently, many of the colony’s tasks (e.g. …

Conditional helping and evolutionary transitions to eusociality and cooperative breeding

The nonreproductive helpers of many arthropod, bird and mammal species are a perennial puzzle for evolutionary biologists. Theory and evidence suggests that helping is favored by high relatedness between social partners and by certain ecological …

Conserved class of queen pheromones stops social insect workers from reproducing

A major evolutionary transition to eusociality with reproductive division of labor between queens and workers has arisen independently at least 10 times in the ants, bees, and wasps. Pheromones produced by queens are thought to play a key role in …

Caste load and the evolution of reproductive skew

Reproductive skew theory seeks to explain how reproduction is divided among group members in animal societies. Existing theory is framed almost entirely in terms of selection, though nonadaptive processes must also play some role in the evolution of …

Crozier’s paradox revisited: maintenance of genetic recognition systems by disassortative mating

Organisms are predicted to behave more favourably towards relatives, and kin-biased cooperation has been found in all domains of life from bacteria to vertebrates. Cooperation based on genetic recognition cues is paradoxical because it …

Cuticular chemistry of males and females in the ant Formica fusca

Communication between organisms involves visual, auditory, and olfactory pathways. In solitary insects, chemical recognition cues are influenced mainly by selection regimes related to species recognition and sexual selection. In social insects, …

Are queen ants inhibited by their own pheromone? Regulation of productivity via negative feedback

Social organisms have evolved diverse and complex regulatory mechanisms that allow them to coordinate group-level functions. Signals and cues produced by other group members facilitate assessment of the group’s current state, allowing the receiver to …

Costs and constraints conspire to produce honest signaling: insights from an ant queen pheromone

Signal costs and evolutionary constraints have both been proposed as ultimate explanations for the ubiquity of honest signaling, but the interface between these two factors is unclear. Here, I propose a pluralistic interpretation, and use game theory …

Random sperm use and genetic effects on worker caste fate in Atta colombica leaf‐cutting ants

Sperm competition can produce fascinating adaptations with far‐reaching evolutionary consequences. Social taxa make particularly interesting models, because the outcome of sexual selection determines the genetic composition of groups, with attendant …

Wax on, wax off: Nest soil facilitates indirect transfer of recognition cues between ant nestmates

Social animals use recognition cues to discriminate between group members and non-members. These recognition cues may be conceptualized as a label, which is compared to a neural representation of acceptable cue combinations termed the template. In …