, Volume 131, Issue 1, pp 25–35

Relationship between body size and flying-related structures in Neotropical social wasps (Polistinae, Vespidae, Hymenoptera)

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00435-011-0142-z

Cite this article as:
García, Z. & Sarmiento, C.E. Zoomorphology (2012) 131: 25. doi:10.1007/s00435-011-0142-z


Body size influences wing shape and associated muscles in flying animals which is a conspicuous phenomenon in insects, given their wide range in body size. Despite the significance of this, to date, no detailed study has been conducted across a group of species with similar biology allowing a look at specific relationship between body size and flying structures. Neotropical social vespids are a model group to study this problem as they are strong predators that rely heavily on flight while exhibiting a wide range in body size. In this paper we describe the variation in both wing shape, as wing planform, and mesosoma muscle size along the body size gradient of the Neotropical social wasps and discuss the potential factors affecting these changes. Analyses of 56 species were conducted using geometric morphometrics for the wings and lineal morphometrics for the body; independent contrast method regressions were used to correct for the phylogenetic effect. Smaller vespid species exhibit rounded wings, veins that are more concentrated in the proximal region, larger stigmata and the mesosoma is proportionally larger than in larger species. Meanwhile, larger species have more elongated wings, more distally extended venation, smaller stigmata and a proportionally smaller mesosoma. The differences in wing shape and other traits could be related to differences in flight demands caused by smaller and larger body sizes. Species around the extremes of body size distribution may invest more in flight muscle mass than species of intermediate sizes.


Allometry Independent contrasts Wings Mesosoma Geometric morphometrics 

Supplementary material

435_2011_142_MOESM1_ESM.docx (40 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 39 kb)
435_2011_142_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (29 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 29 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Entomology posgraduate ProgramUniversidade De São Paulo, FFCLRPRibeirão PretoBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciencias NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotáColombia

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