Sociality in a Malagasy allodapine bee, Macrogalea antanosy, and the impacts of the facultative social parasite, Macrogalea maizina
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- Smith, J.A. & Schwarz, M.P. Insect. Soc. (2006) 53: 101. doi:10.1007/s00040-005-0842-9
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Social parasitism has been researched extensively in many taxa of social insects, including ants, wasps and bees. However, little research has been done on allodapine bees, a taxon that has numerous independent origins of social parasitism. This study looks at two species of Macrogalea from Madagascar, one of which was previously believed to be a social parasite. Macrogalea is an important genus to study as it is the sister clade to all other allodapine genera, and the species of Macrogalea in Madagascar diverged recently, meaning that the study of a social parasite in this genera would provide insights into the very early stages of social parasite evolution. Macrogalea maizina was determined to be facultatively parasitic based on the presence of many traits that are common to other allodapine social parasites. The host, Macrogalea antanosy, was found to be quasisocial, with most females within a colony being able to reproduce. This has unique consequences for a parasitic strategy, as any invading parasite has no need to remove a queen or suppress the reproduction of the other colony members, a strategy that has been commonly observed for facultative parasites in other taxa.