Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wasps queue for top job

11.05.2006
Scientists at UCL (University College London) have discovered that even wasps are driven by their status. The study, published today in Nature, shows that lower-ranked female wasps work harder to help their queen than those higher up the chain because they have less to lose, and consequently are prepared to take more risks and wear themselves out.

The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), reveals that those higher up the chain and therefore with a greater chance of being the next in line to breed are much lazier than their lower-ranked nest-mates: rather than use up their energy in foraging to feed the queen’s larvae, high-rankers sit tight on the nest and wait for their chance to become queen themselves.

Dr Jeremy Field, UCL Department of Biology, said: “Helpers wait peacefully in an age-based queue to inherit the prize of being the queen or breeder in the group. The oldest female almost always becomes the next breeder. The wasps in this queue face a fundamental trade-off: by working harder, they help the group as a whole and as a result indirectly benefit themselves, but they simultaneously decrease their own future survival and fecundity because helping is costly. It involves energy-expensive flight to forage for food, and leaving the nest is dangerous. We have found that the brighter the individual wasp’s future, the less likely it is to take risks by leaving the safety of its nest to forage for food.”

The defining feature of eusocial animals - including insects like bees, ants and wasps, and vertebrates like meerkats and the naked mole rat – is that some individuals forgo their own reproduction to help rear the offspring of others. In hover wasps, helpers spend between 0 and 95 per cent of their time foraging to feed the queen’s larvae. Previous scientific thinking indicated that the variation in help given might be proportional to genetic relatedness. Those less closely related to the queen would help out less. This new study, however, shows that more distantly related wasps aren’t in fact lazier.

Instead, the team led by Dr Field, found that it is the likelihood of future reproduction that primarily determines a wasp’s behaviour - the more likely they are to spawn their own young in the future, the lazier they become.

The tests were carried out on the non-aggressive tropical hairy-faced hover wasp - Liostenogaster flavolineata. Both the wasp’s rank and the size of the group were manipulated to show how these variables affected the amount of help each individual contributed to the group. The team changed the position of individual wasps in the social hierarchy by removing higher ranked, older wasps, thus promoting their younger relatives.

Regardless of age, a wasp’s contribution to feeding the queen’s young depended only on its position in the queue to inherit queenship. Lower-ranked helpers, and helpers in smaller groups, worked hardest.

Alex Brew | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>