Previous attempts to explain worker aggression against extra queens in young social insect colonies have used kin selection arguments. These have been inconsistent with experimental evidence demonstrating aggression against extra queens without strong evidence of kin discrimination. Using a game theoretical model, I suggest a series of decision rules that are consistent with the current experimental evidence from study of young colonies of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. These decision rules are: 1) Workers should behave in favor of a queen that is most likely to allow the workers’ mother to survive to colony maturity, in some cases to the exclusion of kinship considerations. 2) Workers should delay aggression against extra queens until differences in survival capability among the queens are clarified. 3) Queens may voluntarily withhold producing workers in order to conserve strength, either to increase attractiveness to workers or to gain an advantage in fights among the queens themselves.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant)
Keywords: kin discrimination, queen number
The ESA 2001 Annual Meeting - 2001: An Entomological Odyssey of ESA