Colony Life History in the Bumble Bee Bombus terrestris: Interactions, Timing and Control.

Holland, Jacob (2013) Colony Life History in the Bumble Bee Bombus terrestris: Interactions, Timing and Control. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

The evolutionary success of organisms is dependent on adaptive life histories, but the
mechanistic control of life history traits is not often studied from an evolutionary
perspective. One fascinating area with the potential to advance the understanding of
life history regulation in an evolutionary context is the eusocial insects, since their
colonies can themselves be regarded as possessing life histories. This is because
whole colonies must develop and reproduce effectively in order to pass on the genes of
their members. However, as not all colony members have the same fitness optima for
colony life history traits, conflict can exist over the control of these traits. Furthermore,
colony traits may respond differently to the external environment than in individual
organisms, because affecting the life history of colony members might not have
corresponding effects on the life history of whole colonies. In this thesis, I use
laboratory experiments with the bumble bee Bombus terrestris to investigate the control
of eusocial insect colony life history, with a focus on the interactions that bring about
control over timing. Specifically, I reveal queen control over the onset of male
production; show that colonies do not differ over colony development in their response
to natal or non-natal worker laid eggs; demonstrate that higher temperature increases
the productivity, but not longevity, of individuals and colonies; and find that foraging
gene expression in queens may be linked to colony establishment. Taken together,
these findings advance the understanding of life history and social evolution by
illuminating processes at behavioural and molecular levels which regulate colony life
history in eusocial insects. Furthermore, I discuss how this research has potential
applications for the ecological and commercial management of bumble bees, which are
key pollinators of crops and wild flowers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 15:23
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2014 15:23
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48082
DOI:

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