Built to change: dominance strategy changes with life stage in a primitively eusocial bee
Orlova, Margarita; Treanore, Erin; Amsalem, Etya (2023), Built to change: dominance strategy changes with life stage in a primitively eusocial bee, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7h44j0zs5
Access to reproduction is determined by an individual’s dominance rank in many species and is achieved through aggression and/or dominance signalling. In eusocial insects one or several dominant females (queens) monopolize reproduction but to what extent queens rely on aggression and signalling remains obscure. Aggression is costly and its efficiency depends on the group size, whereas signalling may reduce the risks and costs of aggression. Both strategies are used to regulate reproduction in social taxa, with aggression being more common in small social groups, compared to signalling in larger societies. Here, we examine the use of aggression and chemical signalling in a social species (Bombus impatiens) where the dominant queen interacts with increasing numbers of workers as she ages. We found that the queen’s strategy to monopolize reproduction changes with life stage, shifting from overt aggression to chemical signalling as the queen gets older. Particularly, old queens exhibited a higher ratio of short to long cuticular hydrocarbons compared to young queens, an endogenous shift that was attributed to age, as all egg-laying queens were fecund and kept with the same number of workers. Our findings contribute to the understanding of reproductive dominance in the context of an individual’s life history.
Methods are described in the manuscript.