Effects of nutritional deprivation on development and behavior in the subsocial bee Ceratina calcarata (Hymenoptera: Xylocopinae)



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Behavior and Ethology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Description or Abstract

By manipulating resources or dispersal opportunities, mothers can force offspring to remain at the nest to help raise siblings, creating a division of labor. In the subsocial bee Ceratina calcarata, mothers manipulate the quantity and quality of pollen provided to the first female offspring, producing a dwarf eldest daughter that is physically smaller and behaviorally subordinate. This daughter forages for her siblings and forgoes her own reproduction. To understand how the mother’s manipulation of pollen affects the physiology and behavior of her offspring, we manipulated the amount of pollen provided to offspring and measured the effects of pollen quantity on offspring development, adult body size and behavior. We found that by experimentally manipulating pollen quantities we could recreate the dwarf eldest daughter phenotype, demonstrating how nutrient deficiency alone can lead to the development of a worker-like daughter. Specifically, by reducing the pollen and nutrition to offspring, we significantly reduced adult body size and lipid stores, creating significantly less aggressive, subordinate individuals. Worker behavior in an otherwise solitary bee begins to explain how maternal manipulation of resources could lead to the development of social organization and reproductive hierarchies, a major step in the transition to highly social behaviors.



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This work was supported by National Science Foundation (award no. 1456296 to Sandra Rehan and award no. 1523664 to Sarah Lawson). Additionally, this research was supported by the University of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station and the Tuttle Foundation funds to Sandra Rehan


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CC BY 4.0