Genetic diversity promotes homeostasis in insect colonies

Benjamin P. Oldroyd, Jennifer Fewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

251 Scopus citations


Although most insect colonies are headed by a singly mated queen, some ant, wasp and bee taxa have evolved high levels of multiple mating or 'polyandry'. We argue here that a contributing factor towards the evolution of polyandry is that the resulting genetic diversity within colonies provides them with a system of genetically based task specialization, enabling them to respond resiliently to environmental perturbation. An alternate view is that genetic contributions to task specialization are a side effect of multiple mating, which evolved through other causes, and that genetically based task specialization now makes little or no contribution to colony fitness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-413
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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