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 October 2, 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 October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dolphins and Turtles Under Threat in Pakistan

Dolphins and Turtles Under Threat in Pakistan

AFP (Oct. 2, 2014) — The turtles and Dolphins of Pakistan's Indus river - both protected by law - are in a fight for their survival as man's activities threatens their futures. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Harvest Break' Endures in Maine Potato Fields

'Harvest Break' Endures in Maine Potato Fields

AP (Oct. 2, 2014) — Educators and farmers are clinging to a tradition aimed at giving farmers much-needed help in getting potatoes out of the fields and into storage before the ground freezes in the nation's northeast corner. (Oct. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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