Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 191–201

Multiple mating and the evolution of social behavior in the hymenoptera

  • Blaine J. Cole

DOI: 10.1007/BF00290771

Cite this article as:
Cole, B.J. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1983) 12: 191. doi:10.1007/BF00290771


The data on the frequency of mating by queens of eusocial Hymenoptera are reviewed.

It is pointed out that the issue of sperm clumping is probably irrelevant to the evolution of eusociality.

The hypothesis is presented that multiple mating is an adaptation for maintaining large colonies. In ants there is a significant relation between the size of the colony and the frequency of mating.

The effect of multiple mating on the spread of a gene for worker behavior is explored. If a female mates twice, the effective number of matings is less than two except in the case of identical sperm contribution by the males.

Sperm bias is defined as the contribution of unequal amounts of sperm by the males that mate with a queen. Sperm bias can be produced as a sampling phenomenon, by inter-male competition for females and by sperm competition.

The relation between the ergonomic efficiency of the workers at the production of reproductives and the number of matings that is consistent with the evolution of eusociality is derived. If workers are only about 10% more efficient at producing reproductives within a eusocial colony than they are solitarily, then two matings by the queen will still produce a selective advantage to eusocial behavior.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blaine J. Cole
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA