Emergence and consequences of division of labor in associations of normally solitary sweat bees

C. Tate Holbrook, Rebecca M. Clark, Raphaël Jeanson, Susan M. Bertram, Penelope F. Kukuk, Jennifer Fewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Division of labor is a pervasive feature of animal societies, but little is known about the causes or consequences of division of labor in non-eusocial cooperative groups. We tested whether division of labor self-organizes in an incipient social system: artificially induced nesting associations of the normally solitary sweat bee Lasioglossum (Ctenonomia) NDA-1 (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). We quantified task performance and construction output by females nesting either alone or with a conspecific. Within pairs, a division of labor repeatedly arose in which one individual specialized on excavation and pushing/tamping while her nestmate guarded the nest entrance. Task specialization could not be attributed to variation in overall activity, and the degree of behavioral differentiation was greater than would be expected due to random variation, indicating that division of labor was an emergent phenomenon generated in part by social dynamics. Excavation specialists did not incur a survival cost, in contrast to previous findings for ant foundress associations. Paired individuals performed more per capita guarding, and pairs collectively excavated deeper nests than single bees - potential early advantages of social nesting in halictine bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalEthology
Volume115
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009

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Halictidae
polyethism
labor division
bee
eclosion
Apoidea
nest
excavation
nests
Lasioglossum
cooperatives
ant
Formicidae
Hymenoptera
animal
cost
animals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Emergence and consequences of division of labor in associations of normally solitary sweat bees. / Tate Holbrook, C.; Clark, Rebecca M.; Jeanson, Raphaël; Bertram, Susan M.; Kukuk, Penelope F.; Fewell, Jennifer.

In: Ethology, Vol. 115, No. 4, 04.2009, p. 301-310.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tate Holbrook, C. ; Clark, Rebecca M. ; Jeanson, Raphaël ; Bertram, Susan M. ; Kukuk, Penelope F. ; Fewell, Jennifer. / Emergence and consequences of division of labor in associations of normally solitary sweat bees. In: Ethology. 2009 ; Vol. 115, No. 4. pp. 301-310.
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