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Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 297–302 | Cite as

The energetic costs of stereotyped behavior in the paper wasp, Polistes dominulus

  • Susan A. WeinerEmail author
  • William A. WoodsJr.
  • Philip T. Starks
Short Communication

Abstract

Polistes wasps engage in many behavioral interactions. Although there has been debate over the meaning of these interactions, these stereotypical behaviors can be used to determine a colony’s linear dominance hierarchy. Due to the implicit relationship between behavioral and reproductive dominance, behavioral interactions are commonly used to distinguish the reproductively dominant alpha foundress from the beta foundress. It has been suggested that in order to maintain reproductive control, the alpha foundress is forced to remain at a physiologically constrained activity limit. This, in turn, may allow aggressive interactions to be used as determinants influencing reproductive partitioning between cooperating individuals. Energetic costs can place important limitations on behavior, but the energetic cost of the interactions has not previously been measured. To address this, we measured the CO2 production of 19 non-nestmate pairs displaying interactive and noninteractive behavior. The rate of energy used during interaction behavior was positively associated with published rankings of aggression. However, our results indicate that interactions are not very energetically costly in Polistes, particularly when compared to the likely cost of foraging. These data suggest that maintaining reproductive dominance is not very energetically expensive for the dominant and that the dominant foundress expends energy at a lower rate than the subordinate foundress.

Keywords

Polistes dominulus Energetics Dominance hierarchies Reproductive skew 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank R.D. Stevenson for the use of respirometry equipment. This project was partially funded by the Tufts Biology department. This research was conducted in compliance with the current laws of the United States of America.

Supplementary material

114_2008_464_MOESM1_ESM.mov (168 kb)
ESM S1 This video shows a brief mutual antennation between two individuals in the respirometry chamber. (MOV 167 KB)
114_2008_464_MOESM2_ESM.mov (1.2 mb)
ESM S2 This video demonstrates a dart in a respirometry chamber. (MOV 1.19 MB)
114_2008_464_MOESM3_ESM.mov (327 kb)
ESM S3 This video demonstrates one individual biting the other in a respirometry chamber. (MOV 326 KB)
114_2008_464_MOESM4_ESM.mov (1.9 mb)
ESM S4 This video demonstrates two individuals grappling in a respirometry chamber. (MOV 1.94 MB)
114_2008_464_MOESM5_ESM.mov (1.2 mb)
ESM S5 This video demonstrates one individual buzz-walking in a respirometry chamber. (MOV 1.16 MB)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan A. Weiner
    • 1
    Email author
  • William A. WoodsJr.
    • 1
  • Philip T. Starks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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