Extreme reproductive skew at the dawn of sociality is consistent with inclusive fitness theory but problematic for routes to eusociality

Lucas R. Hearn, Olivia K. Davies, Michael P. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To understand the earliest stages of social evolution, we need to identify species that are undergoing the initial steps into sociality. Amphylaeus morosus is the only unambiguously known social species in the bee family Colletidae and represents an independent origin of sociality within the Apoidea. This allows us to investigate the selective factors promoting the transition from solitary to social nesting. Using genome-wide SNP genotyping, we infer robust pedigree relationships to identify maternity of brood and intracolony relatedness for colonies at the end of the reproductive season. We show that A. morosus forms both matrifilial and full-sibling colonies, both involving complete or almost complete monopolization over reproduction. In social colonies, the reproductive primary was also the primary forager with the secondary female remaining in the nest, presumably as a guard. Social nesting provided significant protection against parasitism and increased brood survivorship in general. We show that secondary females gain large indirect fitness benefits from defensive outcomes, enough to satisfy the conditions of inclusive fitness theory, despite an over-production of males in social colonies. These results suggest an avenue to sociality that involves high relatedness and, very surprisingly, extreme reproductive skew in its earliest stages and raises important questions about the evolutionary steps in pathways to eusociality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20220652
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume289
Issue number1977
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Eusociality
  • Hymenoptera
  • Inclusive fitness theory
  • Reproductive skew
  • Social evolution

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