Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 159–168 | Cite as

Provisioning behavior and the estimation of investment ratios in a solitary bee, Calliopsis (Hypomacrotera) persimilis (Cockerell) (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae)

  • Bryan N. Danforth


One aspect of behavioral ecology that has received considerable attention, especially by students of social insects, is the relative amount of energy invested by parents in the rearing of male versus female offspring. Sexual selection theory makes predictions about how individuals should allocate their total investment in the sexes. To test these predictions we must accurately quantify the relative “cost” incurred by a parent in the production of an average individual of either sex. Body weight ratios are the most common estimate of cost ratio, but the correspondence between offspring body weight and energetic investment on the part of the parent has rarely been determined. Calliopsis (Hypomacrotera) persimilis is a solitary, ground-nesting bee whose natural history makes it particularly convenient for studies of investment patterns and foraging behavior. Each day females construct and provision from 1 to 6 cells in linear, closely-spaced series. Each cell is provisioned with pollen from Physalis Wrightii flowers, which is collected on two or three foraging trips. However, the temporal sequence in which two- and three-trip foraging bouts occur is not random. Females invariably begin each day provisioning cells with three trips worth of pollen and usually switch to provisioning the latter cells of the day with just two trips worth of pollen. The sex of the offspring within the same co-linear series of cells also varies non-randomly — female offspring predominate in the first cells of each series and male offspring in the latter cells. The correspondence between the number of foraging trips to provision a cell, the total time spent foraging, and offspring sex was determined for 36 cells. The data indicate a close, though not absolute, relationship between the number of foraging trips and the sex of the offspring: males usually received two trips of pollen, though some received three, whereas female offspring invariably received three trips worth of pollen. A number of potential estimates of the relative cost of female and male offspring production were calculated. Estimates of the cost ratio based on the amount of time spent foraging, adult dry body weight, and pollen ball dry weight all give similar values. Female offspring receive an energetic investment of from 1.3 to 1.5 times that of males. These results support the use of adult dry body weight ratios in the estimation of cost ratios.


Social Insect Male Offspring Female Offspring Cost Ratio Offspring Production 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryan N. Danforth
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Snow Entomological Museum, Department of EntomologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashington, DCUSA

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