Frequency of social nesting in the sweat bee Megalopta genalis (Halictidae) does not vary across a rainfall gradient, despite disparity in brood production and body size

Simon Tierney, C Fischer, Sandra Rehan, K Kapheim, W Wcislo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Local environmental conditions can facilitate or preclude the development of eusocial colonies in insects that facultatively express behavioural-caste polyphenism. To explore how environmental variability relates to the expression of social behaviour, we collected 120 nests of the facultatively social sweat bee, Megaloptagenalis (Halictidae: Augochlorini), along a nearly twofold rainfall gradient in central Panama. Brood rearing activity of bees in seasonal neotropical forests should track flowering phenologies, which are typically set by rainfall and phylogenetic patterns. Nests were collected at roughly similar times of year from three sites comprising wet, moist and dry lowland tropical forests. There were significant differences in ovarian development, brood production and body size across sites for some comparisons, but no effect on the proportion of social colonies collected at each site. Results show that phenotypes of M. genalis relevant to social behaviour (ovarian development, brood production, body size) may be responsive to variation in local environment over distances of <20 km.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-172
    Number of pages10
    JournalInsectes Sociaux
    Volume60
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Keywords

    • Augochlorini
    • Eusocial behaviour
    • Rainfall gradient
    • Seasonality
    • Social evolution

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