Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What cooperation and conflict in an insect's society can teach us about social acceptance

Date:
February 18, 2014
Source:
University of Miami
Summary:
A new study looks at colonies of social wasps and explores the acceptance of individuals not related to each other, in a highly organized and adaptable society. The findings show that the age of the individual, and of the colony, defines the costs and benefits of accepting new members into a group.

A new study looks at colonies of social wasps and explores the acceptance of individuals not related to each other, in a highly organized and adaptable society.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Miami

Ants, wasps and humans live in highly complex societies. Our organizations share some basic features of group life, like individuals trying to find the balance between cooperation and conflict. Understanding what factors are important for these communities to develop gives us key insights into the evolution of sociality in animals.

A new study, by University of Miami biologist and College of Arts & Sciences lecturer Floria Mora-Kepfer Uy, looks at colonies of social wasps and explores the acceptance of individuals not related to each other, in a highly organized and adaptable society. The findings show that the age of the individual, and of the colony, defines the costs and benefits of accepting new members into a group. The study uses the social wasp Mischocyttarus Mexicanus.

"These colonies are composed exclusively of females and they make decisions on the colony composition depending on the social and ecological pressures they are exposed to," says Mora-Kepfer Uy.

Nest-switching is common during the initial period of colony establishment, when individual wasps try to join other colonies and existing members have to decide whether to accept or reject newcomers. The wasps recognize nestmates from non-nestmates using chemical signals that are specific to each colony.

"If non-nestmates are accepted, they may either become a worker in the colony or instead attempt to take over the reproductive-dominant role, steal, or cannibalize the colony's offspring," says Mora-Kepfer Uy. "Females are, therefore, trying to balance the potential benefits of having additional help with the possible costs of new members acting selfishly."

According to the study, young non-nestmates were accepted more often than old ones, and they were more frequently accepted into young colonies, than in late colonies. It might favor the colony to accept non-nestmates as subordinate workers during the period of colony establishment. The findings also show that late colonies more frequently rejected both young and old non-nestmates, suggesting that risk of acceptance may be too high at this stage.

"The findings imply that the effect of the social context and immediate needs of a group mediate social acceptance in these flexible societies," says Mora-Kepfer Uy. "These factors may help us understand changes in the composition of other complex animals groups, including human societies,"

The study is titled "Context-dependent acceptance of non-nestmates in a primitively eusocial insect." The findings are published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami. The original article was written by Marie Guma-Diaz and Annette Gallagher. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Floria Mora-Kepfer. Context-dependent acceptance of non-nestmates in a primitively eusocial insect. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2013; 68 (3): 363 DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1650-2

Cite This Page:

University of Miami. "What cooperation and conflict in an insect's society can teach us about social acceptance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218143328.htm>.
University of Miami. (2014, February 18). What cooperation and conflict in an insect's society can teach us about social acceptance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218143328.htm
University of Miami. "What cooperation and conflict in an insect's society can teach us about social acceptance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218143328.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
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