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The effect of age on non-reproductive division of labour in the tropical primitively eusocial wasp, Ropalidia cyathiformis

Citation

Unnikrishnan, Sruthi; Gadagkar, Raghavendra (2020), The effect of age on non-reproductive division of labour in the tropical primitively eusocial wasp, Ropalidia cyathiformis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t1g1jwszv

Abstract

Division of labour among workers (non-reproductive division of labour), a characteristic feature of eusocial insects enables the efficient functioning of their colonies. In many advanced insect societies division of labour is based on age (age polyethism). Primitively eusocial insects however are believed to have a weak age polyethism. Here we investigated the role of age in non-reproductive division of labour in the tropical primitively eusocial wasp, Ropalidia cyathiformis and compared it with that in Ropalidia marginata, a congeneric species that exhibits relatively strong age polyethism. Age had a significant effect on the first performance of the four tasks studied; tasks were initiated in the sequence feed larva, build, bring food and bring building material. We measured task performance as the absolute frequency of tasks performed (FTP) and the probability of performing a task relative to other tasks (PTP) and age as absolute age in days since eclosion as well as relative age compared to nestmates. FTP varied significantly with both absolute and relative age, although absolute age explained more variance. PTP varied significantly with absolute age but not always with relative age. This is contrary to R. marginata, where more variation is explained by relative age than by absolute age. There was no trade-off between intranidal and extranidal tasks in R. cyathiformis unlike in R. marginata where the frequency of intranidal tasks decreased and that of extranidal tasks increased with age. We conclude that age polyethism is weak and less flexible in R. cyathiformis compared to that in R. marginata.

Usage Notes

The data comprises of the frequency per hour (fr/hr) of 4 behaviours measured - Feed Larva (FL), Build, Bring Food (BF) and Bring Building materials (BB) shown by individuals of different age classes (in days) in terms of both absolute age (AB) and relative age (RA). Sheets 1-4 consists of the fr/hr of the 4 behaviours for each individual wasp grouped according to their absolute age. The wasp id along with the absolute age and fr/hr of the behaviours are given. Sheets 5-8 consists of fr/hr of the 4 behaviours for each individual wasp grouped according to their relative age. The wasp id with absolute age which grouped according to their relative age and the fr/hr of behaviours are given.