Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Predator pressures maintain bees’ social life

21.12.2007
The complex organisation of some insect societies is thought to have developed to such a level that these animals can no longer survive on their own. Research published in the online open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology suggests that rather than organisational, genetic, or biological complexity defining a ‘point of no return’ for social living, pressures of predation create advantages to not living alone.

The ancient systems of sociality in bees, wasps, termites, and ants seem to have become an obligatory way of life for these organisms as there are almost no examples of species reverting to solitary lifestyles. "This has prompted the notion of a 'point of no return' whereby evolutionary changes in behaviour, genetics, and shape in adaptation to a social lifestyle prohibit the insects from living without their society — a queen bee losing her workers would be like a human being losing a vital organ", explains Luke Chenoweth of Flinders University, Australia.

Most social insects have developed a system in which there is a division of labour between castes of related individuals. Reproductive queens rely on sterile workers, usually their daughters, to feed them and nurture their young, but in a few examples of social bees all females in a colony retain the ability to breed but some do not, a phenomenon known as totipotency. Chenoweth and colleagues investigated Halterapis nigrinervis, an African species thought to provide a rare example of a bee with totipotent social ancestors that has reverted to a solitary lifestyle. By investigating this species the researchers hoped to reveal the factors that allow or prevent reversion to a solitary lifestyle.

The researchers collected nests from various habitats. Surprisingly they found that over half contained multiple females and those containing multiple females were more likely to have bee larvae in them. “The results mean that H. nigrinervis is social and that there are consequently no known losses of sociality in this group of bees.” As these bees lack the social and behavioural complexity of honeybees and many other social insects, the fact that they do not seem to live solitarily in any circumstances suggests that ecological pressures rather than biological factors maintain sociality.

... more about:
»Social »maintain »pressures »sociality

The researchers hypothesise that sociality in H. nigrinervis is maintained by predation: multiple females not only offer greater protection to the brood in the nest but also should an adult fall foul of predators, nest-mates will raise their young. While many social insects might retain the potential to raise young alone, the benefits of protection against predation result in sociality being maintained.

Charlotte Webber | alfa
Further information:
http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcevolbiol/

Further reports about: Social maintain pressures sociality

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>