Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 169–180 | Cite as

Environmental influences on male production and social structure inHalictus rubicundus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae)

  • D. Yanega
Research Articles


Several years' observations of population of a primitively social halictine bee,Halictus rubicundus, revealed the following: (1) there is a correlation between ambient temperatures during the spring provisioning phase and the sex ratio of the resulting brood, such that warmer temperatures are associated with an increase in male bias; (2) over the course of the season, the degree of male bias of eggs laid appears to correspond with photoperiod; and (3) increasing male bias in the first brood is associated with decreasing proportions of social colonies formed in the population, and this effect may be accentuated by small population size. These phenomena suggest that abiotic environmental conditions at the time of brood production may profoundly influence the demography of this population, and that the demography in turn determines the degree to which sociality is expressed. These findings are related to hypotheses dealing with caste determination in temperate halictine bees, viewed in the context of the evolution and maintenance of sociality, and it is proposed that these phenomena reveal a mechanism by which social behavior (the occurrence of a “worker” caste, in particular) is facultatively “fine-tuned” to suit the characteristics of the environment.

Key words

Halictidae sociality demography photoperiod temperature 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Yanega
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Entomology, Snow MuseumUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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