Bivoltinism as an antecedent to eusociality in the paper wasp genus Polistes

James H. Hunt, Gro Amdam

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Abstract

To learn the evolutionary trajectories of caste differentiation in eusocial species is a major goal of sociobiology. We present an explanatory framework for caste evolution in the eusocial wasp genus Polistes (Vespidae), which is a model system for insect eusocial evolution. We hypothesize that Polistes worker and gyne castes stem from two developmental pathways that characterized the bivoltine life cycle of a solitary ancestor. Through individual-based simulations, we show that our mechanistic framework can reproduce colony-level characteristics of Polistes and, thereby, that social castes can emerge from solitary regulatory pathways. Our explanatory framework illustrates, by specific example, a changed perspective for understanding insect social evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-267
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume308
Issue number5719
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 8 2005
Externally publishedYes

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