Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 65, Issue 5, pp 1123–1131 | Cite as

Behavioral and physiological factors associated with juvenile hormone in Polistes wasp foundresses

  • Elizabeth A. TibbettsEmail author
  • Amanda Izzo
  • Zachary Y. Huang
Original Paper


Although there is increasing interest in the evolution of endocrine systems, relatively little is known about the factors associated with natural endocrine variation in invertebrates. Here, we assess juvenile hormone (JH) titers among nest-founding queens of the wasp Polistes dominulus over 2 years. We allowed unfamiliar wasps to battle for dominance and examined the relationships between dominance rank, JH, ovarian development, and facial patterns. The relationship between JH-titer and dominance varied across years; there was a stronger relationship between JH-titer and dominance in 2006 than in 2008. Across years, wasps that won dominance contests had facial patterns with more broken black spots than wasps that lost dominance contests. There was no relationship between dominance rank and ovarian development. The individual characteristics associated with JH-titer were also tested; JH-titers were correlated with facial pattern brokenness and ovarian development. This study adds to previous work indicating that P. dominulus facial patterns function as a signal of fighting ability. Furthermore, the correlation between JH-titers and facial patterns parallels previous work on testosterone and vertebrate signals and suggests that links between signals of fighting ability and hormones that mediate fighting ability may be common across taxa. Overall, individual JH-titers vary, though they are typically associated with factors related to individual reproductive success, including dominance, fertility, and facial pattern brokenness. Future studies in additional contexts and taxa will be important to test how and why JH-titers vary.


Badge of status Testosterone Aggression Quality signal Juvenile hormone Dominance 



Funding was provided by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University Agricultural Experimental Station. The JH anti-serum was generous gift from David Borst. Thanks are due to A. Mettler, J. Shorter, and M. Wells for research assistance as well as two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Tibbetts
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda Izzo
    • 1
  • Zachary Y. Huang
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and BehaviorMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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