Intraspecific variation in the comb structure ofPolistes dominulusi parameters, maturation, nest size and cell arrangement
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The intraspecific variability of the nest structures ofPolistes dominulus is described quantitatively. Several variables already used in the literature (e.g. wall expenditure and diameter ratio) are reexamined and a number of new ones are suggested. Variables are analyzed with respect to their dependency on the size and the maturation of the colony.
The analyses were based on mathematical functions deduced for ideal nest growth. In the examined species, the numbers of outer walls and buildable cells do not differ significantly from those calculated for the ideal growth, demonstrating that the real nests are close to the “ideal” round form.
P. dominulus builds compact and well-centered nests. The shape of the comb remains compact during the maturation of the nest. The eccentricity changes during maturation: it is significantly greater in the mature stage than in younger combs.
Analysis reveals that the wasps prefer to initiate a new cell in a position where it will have at least three neighbors. The nests in different age groups not only differed in height, but were also under the control of three different constraints: the structure itself, the large larvae and indirectly the meconium.
Key wordsPolistes dominulus nest architecture intraspecific variation building behaviour
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