The influence of sociality, caste, and size on behavior in a facultatively eusocial bee
Social cooperation requires increased tolerance of other individuals. We used social and solitary individuals of the facultatively eusocial bee Megalopta genalis to compare interactions with non-nestmate individuals in a standardized behavioral assay, a circle tube. We set up interactions between bees from different nests matched for caste (solitary, social: queen or worker). We found more tolerance in social than solitary pairs, but found no difference in aggression. We also found that workers continued expressing caste-typical behavior even when matched against other workers from different nests. However, there was no difference in expression of queen-typical behaviors between the three groups. Our data on social caste show that outside of the queen–worker social context, both queens and workers express similar levels of queen-like behavior. However, workers still express higher levels of worker-like behavior than do queens. We found no effect of variation in ovary size on behavior. We found that body size correlated positively with queen-like behaviors, and negatively with worker-like behaviors. Our body size data suggest that the worker phenotype may result from naturally occurring size-correlated variation in behavior, combined with maternal manipulation of both body size through nutrition and behavior and ovary development through social aggression.
KeywordsCircle tube Maternal manipulation Social evolution Caste Aggression
This work was supported by NSF Grant #17-1028536545 to ARS and MAS. Yi Ling and Callum Kingwell helped collect nests.
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