, Volume 88, Issue 12, pp 526-529
Date: 06 Nov 2001

Reproductive division of labour coevolves with gall size in Australian thrips with soldiers

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An analysis of multiple species of Australian gall-inducing thrips with soldiers reveals a significant negative correlation between the size of gall produced and the reproductive division of labour. This correlation suggests that the evolution of smaller galls limited the available space and feeding sites for the offspring of female soldiers, and was a major factor that led to the evolution of an altruistic caste in the gall-inducers. We argue that high levels of inbreeding by singly mated foundresses and incestuous mating by her soldier offspring are key to this evolutionary relationship because they make the relatedness of a female soldier to her daughters and sisters approximately equal. Evidence that relatedness plays an important role is strengthened by the observation of outbred multiply mated foundresses and unbiased sex ratio of dispersers in Oncothrips waterhousei, and the inference that both gall volume and skew decreased along this lineage.

Accepted in revised form: 10 September 2001
Electronic Publication