Unrelated Helpers in a Primitively Eusocial Wasp: Is Helping Tailored Towards Direct Fitness?

  title={Unrelated Helpers in a Primitively Eusocial Wasp: Is Helping Tailored Towards Direct Fitness?},
  author={Ellouise Leadbeater and Jonathan Carruthers and Jonathan P. Green and Jasper van Heusden and Jeremy Field},
  journal={PLoS ONE},
The paper wasp Polistes dominulus is unique among the social insects in that nearly one-third of co-foundresses are completely unrelated to the dominant individual whose offspring they help to rear and yet reproductive skew is high. These unrelated subordinates stand to gain direct fitness through nest inheritance, raising the question of whether their behaviour is adaptively tailored towards maximizing inheritance prospects. Unusually, in this species, a wealth of theory and empirical data… 

Figures from this paper

Cooperation between non-relatives in a primitively eusocial paper wasp, Polistes dominula
The remote but potentially highly rewarding chance of inheriting the dominant position appears to strongly influence behaviour, suggesting that primitively eusocial insects may have much more in common with their social vertebrate counterparts than has commonly been thought.
Nest Inheritance Is the Missing Source of Direct Fitness in a Primitively Eusocial Insect
It is shown that nest inheritance can explain the presence of unrelated helpers in a classic social insect model, the primitively eusocial wasp Polistes dominulus, and that direct fitness is vital to explain cooperation in P. dominulus.
Partner choice correlates with fine scale kin structuring in the paper wasp Polistes dominula
The data suggest that kin groups may form via a philopatric rule-of-thumb, whereby wasps simply select groups and nesting sites that are nearby, and that most subordinate helpers obtain indirect fitness benefits by breeding cooperatively.
High indirect fitness benefits for helpers across the nesting cycle in the tropical paper wasp Polistes canadensis
It is shown that adult cofoundresses are highly related and that brood production is monopolized by a single female across the nesting cycle of a tropical Polistes—Polistes canadensis, and the importance of studying a range of species with diverse life history and ecologies when considering the evolution of reproductive strategies is stressed.
Available kin recognition cues may explain why wasp behavior reflects relatedness to nest mates
It is proposed that wasps use specific components of the CHC profile, the identity of which is as yet unknown, to identify relatives among nest mates, and provides the first evidence of within-nest kin discrimination in primitively eusocial wasps.
Using social parasitism to test reproductive skew models in a primitively eusocial wasp
It is suggested that the use of social parasitism to generate meaningful variation in key social variables represents a valuable opportunity to explore the mechanisms underpinning reproductive skew within the social Hymenoptera.
Ecological Drivers of Non-kin Cooperation in the Hymenoptera
The diversity and organization of non-kin sociality across the Hymenoptera is reviewed, particularly among the communal bees and polygynous ants and wasps, with a particular focus on ecological factors.
Kinship, greenbeards, and runaway social selection in the evolution of social insect cooperation
  • P. Nonacs
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2011
The results imply a potential for greenbeard-type kin recognition to create arbitrary runaway social selection for shared genetic traits in ants, as well as other examples in social evolution.
Predictors of nest growth: diminishing returns for subordinates in the paper wasp Polistes dominula
Average body size, the variation in body sizes within the group, and average genetic relatedness between group members did not affect nest growth, while group size had a strong, positive effect: nests grew faster with more group members, but the per-capita benefit decreased in larger groups.
A Route to Direct Fitness: Natural and Experimentally Induced Queen Succession in the Tropical Primitively Eusocial Wasp Ropalidia marginata
It is shown that even during natural queen turnover, one and only one worker becomes hyper-aggressive and takes over as the next queen, without being challenged, unlike in the case of experimental queen removal.


Unrelated helpers in a social insect
Microsatellite markers are used to reveal an unexpected and unique social system in what is probably the best-studied social wasp, Polistes dominulus, which is functionally unlike other social insects, but similar to certain vertebrate societies, in which the unrelated helpers gain through inheritance of a territory or a mate.
Future fitness and helping in social queues
It is shown that individuals work less hard when they stand to lose more future fitness through working, and variation in the costs associated with helping is the major determinant of helping effort.
Genetic relatedness in early associations of Polistes dominulus: from related to unrelated helpers
Indirect benefits obtained through the reproduction of relatives are fundamental in the formation and maintenance of groups. Here, we examine the hypothesis that females of the temperate paper wasp
Helping effort and future fitness in cooperative animal societies
  • M. Cant, J. Field
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2001
A multiplayer kin–selection model that assumes that subordinates face a trade–off because current investment in help reduces their own future reproductive success is developed, and it is found that both inheritance rank and group size had significant effects on helping effort.
Social stability and helping in small animal societies
  • J. Field, M. Cant
  • Economics
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2009
Evidence that paper-wasp dominants avoid escalated conflicts by ceding reproduction to subordinates is discussed, and how queuing rules may be enforced through hidden threats that rarely have to be carried out is discussed.
The evolution of parental and alloparental effort in cooperatively breeding groups: when should helpers pay to stay?
The model provides the first theoretical treatment of rent payment (the "pay-to-stay" hypothesis) for the evolution of helping behavior of subordinates and shows that reproductive concessions may be replaced by complete skew and voluntary, costly alloparental effort by subordinates once future prospects are included in fitness calculations.
Communal breeding in green woodhoopoes as a case for reciprocity
Information is reported on a tropical, communal bird, the green wood-hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus), that suggests helping is a strategy for personal gain, at least in that particular species.
Experimental evidence for kin-biased helping in a cooperatively breeding vertebrate
Strong evidence is provided that kinship plays an essential role in the maintenance of cooperative breeding in this species and, when given a choice between helping equidistant broods belonging to kin and non–kin within the same social unit, virtually all helped at the nest of kin.
Helping effort in a dominance hierarchy
It is argued that the effects of rank on stable helping effort may explain why attempts to correlate individual helping effort with relatedness in cooperatively breeding species have met with limited success.