• allometry;
  • morphometry;
  • multivariate analysis;
  • non-size-based difference;
  • paper wasp;
  • queen;
  • worker


Morphological differences between queens and workers in an Australian swarm-founding paper wasp, Ropalidia romandi, were examined, providing detailed information on the nature of morphological caste differences in swarm-founding Ropalidia for the first time. Queens and workers differed in overall size and had divergent shapes, but differences were not always significant. In colonies in which queen–worker dimorphism was distinct, while the head width of queens was nearly the same as that of workers, queens were significantly larger in measures on the metasoma than workers. Plotting of metasomal variables against the mesosomal length and analysis of covariance showed that queen–worker morphological differentiation in R. romandi cannot be explained by simple linear allometric growth, suggesting that the two castes diverge in their growth parameters in the preadult stage. The pattern of morphological caste difference varied among colonies or was colony specific; there was no clear correlation between caste differences and colony cycle progression. These results suggest that morphological caste differences in R. romandi are determined genetically or by interactions between genetic background and intrinsic factors and/or external conditions.