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
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine