Insectes Sociaux

, 58:519 | Cite as

Polistes japonicus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) queens monopolize ovipositing but are not the most active aggressor in dominant-subordinate interactions

  • Y. Ishikawa
  • Y. Y. Yamada
  • M. Matsuura
  • M. Tsukada
  • K. Tsuchida
Research Article


In order to elucidate the dominant–subordinate relationship between the foundress and workers, five colonies of the paper wasp Polistes japonicus were observed in a netted and covered cage located outdoors. The number of workers in each colony ranged from four to eight. Workers were divided into first and second broods. Abdominal wagging and ovipositing were performed almost exclusively by the foundress throughout colony development. However, an analysis of aggressive encounters indicated that although the foundress hardly received dominance behaviors (aggression) from workers, it lacked either partially or completely the following characteristics of the queen that are usually seen in paper-wasp colonies with independent-founding queens (except in one colony that produced no second brood): the queen being socially dominant over any worker (the queen had more wins than losses in one-on-one dominance contests with any worker), exhibiting the highest frequency of dominance behaviors, and directing dominance behaviors primarily toward the socially most-dominant worker. In particular, during the mixed-brood period (when all first- and second-brood workers were present on the nest) the foundress hardly exhibited dominance behaviors toward socially dominant workers (mainly second brood) but frequently directed dominance behaviors toward socially subordinate workers (mainly first brood). The foundress disappeared in two colonies before the reproductives emerged; in these colonies the socially most-dominant worker inherited the colony and laid many eggs. The frequency of abdominal wagging by these two foundresses decreased during colony development, while it did not in the other colonies. This suggests that abdominal wagging provides information about the vigor of the performer. The superseder was socially dominant over all other workers, but spent little time wagging its abdomen and allowed some workers to lay eggs.


Abdominal wagging Dominance behavior Dominance hierarchy Polistinae Social insects 



We thank R.L. Jeanne and an anonymous referee for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Ishikawa
    • 1
  • Y. Y. Yamada
    • 1
  • M. Matsuura
    • 1
  • M. Tsukada
    • 1
  • K. Tsuchida
    • 2
  1. 1.Insect Ecology Laboratory, Graduate School of BioresourcesMie UniversityTsuJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Faculty of Applied Biological SciencesGifu UniversityGifuJapan

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