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High-resolution genetic markers have revolutionized our understanding of vertebrate mating systems, but have so far yielded few comparable surprises about kinship in social insects. Here we use microsatellite markers to reveal an unexpected and unique social system in what is probably the best-studied social wasp, Polistes dominulus. Social insect colonies(More)
Polistes dominulus, a common Polistes species with Old World distribution, is now invading the United States. We discuss those characteristics of P. dominulus that may explain its successful establishment in its new American environment. A versatile diet, the ability to colonize new environments and a short development time of the immature brood might have(More)
. Most species of social insect are characterized by a reproductive division of labor among morphologically specialized individuals. In contrast, there exist many species where all individuals are morphologically identical and dominance relationships determine which individuals mate and/or reproduce. In newly founded multiple-foundress associations of the(More)
In many social insects the relationship between reproductive dominance and physiological correlates is poorly understood. Recent evidence now strongly suggests that cuticular hydrocarbons are important in reproductive differentiation in these societies where they are used as signals of ovarian activity in reproductive females. In this study we investigated(More)
In social insects, recognition of nestmates from aliens is based on olfactory cues, and many studies have demonstrated that such cues are contained within the lipid layer covering the insect cuticle. These lipids are usually a complex mixture of tens of compounds in which aliphatic hydrocarbons are generally the major components. The experiments described(More)
In summer, males of Polistes dominulus form large aggregations at sunny landmarks. We identified two size-correlated behavioural categories: residents (R) and transient (T). R males, which constitute 20%–25% of the total population, are larger than T males, territorial, aggressive, and more site-faithful, while T males range more widely, are non-aggressive,(More)
Hamilton's theory [1] for the evolution of social behaviour predicts that helpers may renounce direct reproduction to help their more fertile kin. Intra-colony recognition among queens and helpers (subordinate queens or workers) is consequently a central issue in insect sociobiology. In social insects, cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are involved in(More)
Chemical communication is widespread in insects and is crucial for colony organization in social species [1]. The environment and the signal requirements influence the chemical characteristics of the pheromone employed [1]. Highly volatile substances elicit rapid responses, as in alarm signalling, whereas low volatility compounds provide long-lasting cues(More)
Inclusive fitness theory predicts that members of non-clonal societies will gain by directing altruistic acts towards their closest relatives. Multiple mating by queens and multiple queens creates distinct full-sister groups in many hymenopteran societies within which nepotism might occur. However, the weight of empirical data suggests that nepotism within(More)
To establish a dominance order, social animals often rely on indicators of fighting to avoid costly aggressive encounters. In some species, individuals use colour patterns to signal their social status. Recent studies claimed that facial markings in the eusocial paper wasp Polistes dominulus are status badges that allow co-foundresses to form a linear(More)