Reproductive skew and split sex ratios in social Hymenoptera

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I present a model demonstrating that, in social Hymenoptera, split sex allocation can influence the evolution of reproductive partitioning (skew). In a facultatively polygynous population (with one to several queens per colony), workers vary in their relative relatedness to females (relatedness asymmetry). Split sex-ratio theory predicts that workers in monogynous (single-queen) colonies should concentrate on female production, as their relatedness asymmetry is relatively high, whereas workers in the polygynous colonies should concentrate on male production, as their relatedness asymmetry is relatively low. By contrast, queens in all colonies value males more highly per capita than they value females, because the worker-controlled population sex ratio is too female-biased from the queens' standpoint. Consider a polygynous colony in a facultatively polygynous population of perennial, social Hymenoptera with split sex ratios. A mutant queen achieving reproductive monopoly would gain from increasing her share of offspring but, because the workers would assess her colony as monogynous, would lose from the workers rearing a greater proportion of less-valuable females from the colony's brood. This sets an upper limit on skew. Therefore, in social Hymenoptera, skew evolution is potentially affected by queen-worker conflict over sex allocation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2131-2136
Number of pages6
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001

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