Extended alloparental care in the almost solitary bee Exoneurella eremophila (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
The possibility of extending brood care via the overlapping presence of relatively short lived adults could generate advantages that may have been among the selective forces at the origin of eusociality. In this paper we provide evidence for extended brood care through sib-rearing in the arid-zone allodapine bee, Exoneurella eremophila. Solitary females of the overwintered generation generally die before all their offspring have become independent. In a relatively high proportion of nests, a newly eclosed female invests in her siblings while producing her own offspring in the maternal nest. The sex ratio of the first offspring produced by the overwintered female is highly female biased, but the overall sex ratio of the brood is unbiased. This finding supports the prediction of Bull's 'insurance by protogyny' model of a female bias in the first-produced offspring as a strategy by the mother to ensure extended brood care.
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