Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 14–21

Assured fitness returns favor sociality in a mass-provisioning sweat bee, Megalopta genalis (Hymenoptera: Halictidae)

  • Adam R. Smith
  • William T. Wcislo
  • Sean O'Donnell
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-003-0589-0

Cite this article as:
Smith, A.R., Wcislo, W.T. & O'Donnell, S. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2003) 54: 14. doi:10.1007/s00265-003-0589-0

Abstract

Assured fitness returns models for the evolution of sociality emphasize the selective value of ensuring that offspring receive adequate parental care to reach maturity. If a member of a social group dies, it can accrue returns on investment in offspring through the efforts of surviving social partners. We provide evidence that in the mass-provisioning, facultatively social sweat bee Megalopta genalis, adult presence in the nest throughout brood development provides protection from ant predation. Nests with adults present were well protected, and brood in nests with adults removed suffered higher predation. Females in observation nests showed effective defensive behavior against experimentally introduced ants, and bees in natural nests repulsed naturally occurring ant raids. Megalopta nest architecture and behavior are such that the brood of several cooperating females can be defended with little additional cost relative to solitary nesting. The benefits of cooperative defense may favor group living in mass provisioning bees. Our observations and experiments suggest that parental care throughout brood development can be adaptive in mass provisioning species, supporting the predictions of assured fitness returns models.

Keywords

Assured fitness returnsSocial evolutionAnt predationBrood defense

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam R. Smith
    • 1
  • William T. Wcislo
    • 2
  • Sean O'Donnell
    • 1
  1. 1.Animal Behavior Area, Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteAPO AA 34002Panama