The comparative biology of two sympatric paper wasps, the native Polistes fuscatus and the invasive Polistes dominulus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)
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Polistes dominulus (Christ), an old world paper wasp, was introduced accidentally into the eastern coast of the United States in the late 1970s and has been rapidly spreading westward, displacing the native P. fuscatus (F.). The biology of naturally nesting P. fuscatus and P. dominulus was compared at a field site in Rochester, Michigan. The basic methodology consisted of simultaneously videotaping spatially proximate, matched single-foundress colonies of P. fuscatus and P. dominulus (13 matched sets, 176.8 h of videography). In addition, extensive surveys and censuses were taken of colonies to record colony productivity, dates of nest initiation and first worker emergence, usurpation and parasitism.¶There was no evidence that P. dominulus is negatively impacting P. fuscatus through direct, agonistic encounters. However, P. dominulus is 4-5 times more productive than P. fuscatus, suggesting that P. dominulus is replacing P. fuscatus via exploitative competition. P. dominulus appears to have a number of advantages over P. fuscatus, including earlier production of workers, higher per capita foraging rates by queens and workers, higher queen survivorship, and lack of conspecific pressures. Nest site and/or prey availability may be limiting factors in the competition between the two species.
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