Journal of Ethology

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 385–389 | Cite as

Decisions, decisions, decisions: the host colony choices of a social parasite

  • Jaclyn A. Smith
  • Michael P. Schwarz


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.


Allodapine 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.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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