That's the conclusion of a study by University of Michigan researchers published online this week in the journal Evolution.
"It's good to be different, to wear a nametag advertising your identity," said graduate student Michael Sheehan, who collaborated on the research with evolutionary biologist Elizabeth Tibbetts.
In earlier research, Tibbetts showed that paper wasps (Polistes fuscatus) recognize individuals by variations in their facial markings and that they behave more aggressively toward wasps with unfamiliar faces. Then last year, Sheehan and Tibbetts published a paper in Current Biology demonstrating that these wasps have surprisingly long memories and base their behavior on what they remember of previous social interactions with other wasps.
That's important in a species like P. fuscatus, in which multiple queens establish communal nests and raise offspring cooperatively, but also compete to form a linear dominance hierarchy. Remembering who they've already bested---and been bested by---keeps individuals from wasting energy on repeated aggressive encounters and presumably promotes colony stability by reducing friction.
In the latest work, Sheehan and Tibbetts wanted to see if individual wasps benefit not only by being able to recognize others, but by being recognizable themselves. Most previous studies of individual recognition---which is found not only in social wasps, but also in a variety of creatures including lobsters, salamanders, penguins and people---have focused only on the presence or absence of the ability in a given species. But little research has centered on the individual being recognized.
To investigate the pros and cons of being a standout, the researchers altered the wasps' facial patterns and set up groups of four unrelated wasp queens, in which three wasps looked alike and one looked distinctively different from the others. The experimenters then videotaped encounters among the wasps and played the tapes back, recording and scoring all acts of aggression.
They found that distinctively-marked wasps were less likely to be the targets of aggression than were look-alike wasps.
"Given that receiving aggression is costly, in terms of injury or energy expenditure, these results indicate that being distinctive is beneficial," Sheehan said.
The benefits of being recognizable may extend beyond wasp societies, Tibbetts said. "For example, have you ever wondered why there is so much variation in human facial features? One possibility is that a mechanism similar to that found in wasps is operating in humans: those with unusual faces, who are easy to identify, may do better than those with more similar faces. Over evolutionary time, this would result in the huge variation in human faces that we see today."
Next, the researchers want to investigate the possible genetic underpinnings of the wasps' naturally occurring facial variations and to look more closely at how whole wasp societies benefit by being made up of distinctive, easily-recognized members.
"We've shown the benefit to an individual of being different," Sheehan said. "Now we want to explore how a group benefits from diversity."For more information:
Nancy Ross-Flanigan | Newswise Science News
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering