Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 95, Issue 9, pp 787–792

Yellowjackets (Vespula pensylvanica) thermoregulate in response to changes in protein concentration

  • M. A. Eckles
  • E. E. Wilson
  • D. A. Holway
  • J. C. Nieh
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00114-008-0384-x

Cite this article as:
Eckles, M.A., Wilson, E.E., Holway, D.A. et al. Naturwissenschaften (2008) 95: 787. doi:10.1007/s00114-008-0384-x

Abstract

Social insects can modulate body temperature to increase foraging efficiency; however, little is known about how the relative value of protein resources affects forager body temperature. Such regulation may be important given that colony growth is often limited by protein availability. In this paper, we present what are, to our knowledge, the first data for social insects showing that thoracic temperatures (Tth) of foragers increase with the protein content of food resources. In an introduced population of western yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica), we measured Tth of foragers collecting high-quality protein (100% canned chicken) and low-quality protein (50% canned chicken, 50% indigestible alpha-cellulose by volume) at different ambient air temperatures (Ta). Wasps foraging on 100% chicken consistently exhibited higher Tth compared to wasps foraging on 50% chicken. After correcting for Ta, the mean Tth for wasps collecting 100% chicken were 1.98°C higher than those of individuals collecting 50% chicken. We suggest that this mechanism may increase foraging efficiency in this and other social wasp species.

Keywords

ForagingThermoregulationVespulaProteinWasp

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Eckles
    • 1
  • E. E. Wilson
    • 1
  • D. A. Holway
    • 1
  • J. C. Nieh
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Ecology, Behavior, and EvolutionUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA