Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 249–256 | Cite as

Physical variability among nest foundresses in the polygynous social wasp, Polistes annularis

  • Jeanne D. Sullivan
  • Joan E. Strassmann


An individual's rank in a dominance hierarchy is often based on size or weight, especially in insects. Foundresses of the social wasp, Polistes annularis, vary greatly in size as measured by wing length, dry weight, fat weight, and residue weight after fat has been extracted. Females that emerged from the same nest are much more similar in size to each other than they are to females that emerged from other nests. Within nests however queens are usually larger than their subordinates. Queens that emerged from one nest may be smaller than subordinates that emerged from another nest. We found no evidence of a group of females that are forced into being subordinates because of inadequate feeding as larvae. Females are also probably not attempting to begin new nests with females as different in size as possible from themselves since means and variances of winglength of females on new nests do not differ from those of all females emerging from that natal nest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanne D. Sullivan
    • 1
  • Joan E. Strassmann
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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