Policing is more effective against eggs of non-natal versus natal workers at early colony stages in a bumblebee

Holland, Jacob G., Zanette, Lorenzo R. S., Nunes, Tulio and Bourke, Andrew F. G. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5891-8816 (2023) Policing is more effective against eggs of non-natal versus natal workers at early colony stages in a bumblebee. Ethology, 129 (8). pp. 421-431. ISSN 0179-1613

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Abstract

Eusocial insect colonies are vulnerable to exploitation by egg-laying workers arising either as natal reproductive workers or as non-natal reproductive 'drifting' workers (intraspecific social parasites). Worker egg-laying is potentially costly to the colony, but queens and workers can counter its costs via egg-eating (queen or worker policing). Bumblebee colonies exhibit egg laying by both natal and non-natal workers: natal workers collectively lay more eggs but do so only after a specific point in the colony cycle, the ‘competition point’, whereas non-natal workers potentially lay eggs throughout the colony cycle. These features create a special opportunity to investigate whether policing of worker-laid eggs is context-dependent (i.e. depends on worker origin of eggs and/or colony stage). We introduced artificial egg cells containing eggs laid by either natal or non-natal workers into colonies of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris both before and after their competition points, and observed the fate of introduced egg cells and eggs. In both colony stages, the majority of introduced egg cells and eggs were policed, demonstrating that policing was not activated only after the competition point. However, in the pre-competition point stage alone, a smaller proportion of non-natal workers' eggs (15%) remained after 20 h compared to the proportion of natal workers' eggs remaining (24%). More effective policing of non-natal workers' eggs early in the colony cycle potentially represents an adaptive, context-dependent response to the stage in the cycle when all worker-laid eggs are normally unrelated to the natal colony.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This work was funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council [NERC research grant reference number NE/D003903/1], a NERC studentship held by JGH and a FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo – Brasil) studentship held by TN.
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Organisms and the Environment
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 May 2023 15:30
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2023 10:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92015
DOI: 10.1111/eth.13378

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