Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Predator Pressures Maintain Bees' Social Life

Date:
January 5, 2008
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
The complex organization of some insect societies is thought to have developed to such a level that these animals can no longer survive on their own. Research suggests that rather than organizational, genetic, or biological complexity defining a 'point of no return' for social living, pressures of predation create advantages to not living alone.

Active bee hive. The complex organisation of some insect societies is thought to have developed to such a level that these animals can no longer survive on their own.
Credit: iStockphoto/Judy Ledbetter

The complex organisation of some insect societies is thought to have developed to such a level that these animals can no longer survive on their own. New research suggests that rather than organisational, genetic, or biological complexity defining a 'point of no return' for social living, pressures of predation create advantages to not living alone.

The ancient systems of sociality in bees, wasps, termites, and ants seem to have become an obligatory way of life for these organisms as there are almost no examples of species reverting to solitary lifestyles. "This has prompted the notion of a 'point of no return' whereby evolutionary changes in behaviour, genetics, and shape in adaptation to a social lifestyle prohibit the insects from living without their society -- a queen bee losing her workers would be like a human being losing a vital organ," explains Luke Chenoweth of Flinders University, Australia.

Most social insects have developed a system in which there is a division of labour between castes of related individuals. Reproductive queens rely on sterile workers, usually their daughters, to feed them and nurture their young, but in a few examples of social bees all females in a colony retain the ability to breed but some do not, a phenomenon known as totipotency. Chenoweth and colleagues investigated Halterapis nigrinervis, an African species thought to provide a rare example of a bee with totipotent social ancestors that has reverted to a solitary lifestyle. By investigating this species the researchers hoped to reveal the factors that allow or prevent reversion to a solitary lifestyle.

The researchers collected nests from various habitats. Surprisingly they found that over half contained multiple females and those containing multiple females were more likely to have bee larvae in them. "The results mean that H. nigrinervis is social and that there are consequently no known losses of sociality in this group of bees." As these bees lack the social and behavioural complexity of honeybees and many other social insects, the fact that they do not seem to live solitarily in any circumstances suggests that ecological pressures rather than biological factors maintain sociality.

The researchers hypothesise that sociality in H. nigrinervis is maintained by predation: multiple females not only offer greater protection to the brood in the nest but also should an adult fall foul of predators, nest-mates will raise their young. While many social insects might retain the potential to raise young alone, the benefits of protection against predation result in sociality being maintained.

Journal reference: Social complexity in bees is not sufficient to explain lack of reversions to solitary living over long time scales. Luke B Chenoweth, Simon M Tierney, Jaclyn A Smith, Steven JB Cooper and Michael P Schwarz. BMC Evolutionary Biology (in press) http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcevolbiol/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Predator Pressures Maintain Bees' Social Life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071221094850.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2008, January 5). Predator Pressures Maintain Bees' Social Life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071221094850.htm
BioMed Central. "Predator Pressures Maintain Bees' Social Life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071221094850.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins