Decisions, decisions, decisions: the host colony choices of a social parasite
- 251 Downloads
Many factors contribute to the success of a socially parasitic strategy, especially the ability of the parasite to invade a host colony. However, little research has focused on the choices that may be made by an invading parasite, specifically whether parasites actively discriminate between different host colonies and if they have a preference for colonies of a particular size. When an allodapine social parasite, Inquilina schwarzi, was presented with colonies of their host species, Exoneura robusta, the parasites were found to invade the larger host colonies. However, it could not be ascertained from this study whether the parasites were making an active decision concerning which colony to invade, or whether they were simply more attracted to the larger colonies due to potentially stronger odour cues. Regardless of the cause, the larger host colonies are more at risk of being invaded by a social parasite, which would give parasites greater resources for exploitation and could also provide selection against the large host colony sizes.
KeywordsAllodapine bee Colony invasion Nest choice
We thank Meg Schwarz and Sally Harradine for help with fieldwork and nest processing, Theresa Wossler for advice on a previous version of this manuscript, as well as the Holsworth Wildlife Research Fund (grant awarded to J. Smith) and the Australian Research Council (grant awarded to M. Schwarz) for the financial support required for this research.
- Batra SWT, Sakagami SF, Maeta Y (1993) Behavior of the Indian allodapine bee Braunsapis kaliago, a social parasite in the nest of B. mixta (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae). J Kans Entomol Soc 66:345–360Google Scholar
- Fisher RM (1984) Recognition of host nest odour by the bumblebee social parasite Psithyrus ashtoni (Hymenoptera: Apidae). N Y Entomol Soc 91:503–507Google Scholar
- Michener CD (1961) A new parasitic genus of Ceratinini from Australia. J Kans Entomol Soc 34:178–180Google Scholar
- Michener CD (1965) The life cycle and social organization of bees of the genus Exoneura and their parasite, Inquilina (Hymenoptera: Xylocopinae). Univ Kans Sci Bull 9:317–358Google Scholar
- Michener CD (1971) Biologies of African allodapine bees (Hymenoptera: Xylocopinae). B Am Mus Nat Hist 145:223–301Google Scholar
- Michener CD (2000) The bees of the world. John Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
- Reyes SG, Michener CD (1990) Observations on a parasitic allodapine bee and its hosts in Java and Malaysia. Trop Zool 3:139–149Google Scholar
- Schmid-Hempel P (1998) Parasites in social insects. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Schwarz MP (1988) Intra-specific mutualism and kin-association of cofoundresses in allodapine bees (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae). Monit zool Ital 22:245–254Google Scholar