Article: article from journal or magazin.
Caste determination through mating in primitively eusocial societies.
Journal of Theoretical Biology
Eusocial animal societies are typified by the presence of a helper (worker) caste which predominantly cares for young offspring in a social group while investing little in their own direct reproduction. A key question is what determines whether an individual becomes a worker or leaves to initiate her own reproduction. In some insects, caste is determined nutritionally during development. In others, and in vertebrate societies, adults are totipotent and the cues that determine caste are less well known. The mate limitation hypothesis (MLH) states that a female's mating status acts as a cue for caste determination: females that mate become reproductives, while those that fail to mate become workers. The MLH is consistent with empirical observations in sweat bees showing that over the course of the nesting season, there are increases in both the proportion of females that become reproductives and the frequency of males in the mating pool. We modelled a foundress's offspring sex-ratio strategy to investigate whether an increasingly male-biased operational sex-ratio over time is evolutionarily stable under the MLH. Our results indicate that such a pattern could occur if early workers were more valuable than late workers. This pattern was then more likely if male mortality was high, if worker mortality was low, if the value of a worker was high and if the period over which workers can help was short. Our results suggest that the MLH can be evolutionarily stable, but only under restrictive conditions. Manipulative experiments are now required to investigate whether mating determines caste in nature.
Sex ratio, Mate limitation, Halictus, ESS model
Web of science
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