Trait Mapping and Salience in the Evolution of Eusocial Vespid Wasps

  • Hunt J
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Abstract

In the present analysis, cladograms of superfamilies and families of Hymenoptera and of the family Vespidae are used to ordinate the appearance of traits that play roles in vespid eusociality.;The multiple independent origins of eusociality in the insect order Hymenoptera are clustered in only four of more than 80 families, and those four families are two pairs of closely related taxa in a single part of the order. Therefore, although ordinal-level characteristics can contribute to hymenopteran eusocial evolution, more important roles have been played by traits of infraordinal taxa that contain the eusocial forms. Many factors have been proposed and discussed, but assessments of traits' salience to eusocial evolution have heretofore not been joined to phylogenetics. In the present analysis, cladograms of superfamilies and families of Hymenoptera and of the family Vespidae are used to ordinate the appearance of traits that play roles in vespid eusociality. Proximity of traits' first appearance to the origin of eusocial Vespidae is taken as one measure of traits' salience to vespid eusocial evolution. Traits that subtend only eusocial taxa and that are uniquely associated with eusociality have foundations in more general traits that subtend more inclusive taxa. No single trait is uniquely causative of vespid eusocial evolution. High-salience traits that closely subtend vespid eusociality include nesting, oviposition into an empty nest cell, progressive provisioning of larvae, adult nourishment during larval provision malaxation, and inequitable food distribution among nestmates. The threshold characteristic of Polistes-grade eusociality is life-long alloparental brood care by first female offspring who remain, uninseminated, at their natal nest. Traits directly associated with occurrence of such workers are larva-adult trophallaxis, which can foster relatively low larval nourishment early in a colony cycle, and protogyny and direct larval development, which combine to yield restricted mating opportunities for female offspring that are the first to emerge in the colony cycle. Trait mapping suggests no role for asymmetry of relatedness due to haplodiploidy, but it suggests high salience for haplodiploidy as a mechanism enabling the production of all-female clutches of first offspring.;

Author-supplied keywords

  • Animal behavior
  • Evolution
  • Genetic aspects
  • Genetics
  • Haploidy
  • Hymenoptera
  • Insect societies
  • Insects
  • Research
  • Wasps

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Authors

  • James H Hunt

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