Size-dependent reproductive dominance in foundresses of Ropalidia plebeiana, an Australian paper wasp forming nest aggregations (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)


Dr Jun-ichi Kojima, Natural History Laboratory, Faculty of Science, Ibaraki University, Mito, 310-8512 Japan. Email:


The relationship between reproductive status and body size in foundresses of Ropalidia plebeiana, an Australian endemic paper wasp forming huge aggregations of nests, was examined. Foundresses with developed ovaries (laying foundresses) in multifoundress colonies tended to be larger than foundresses in single-foundress colonies and foundresses with undeveloped ovaries (non-laying foundresses). However, the laying foundress was not always the largest of the foundresses in a colony. Body shape in foundresses varied according to simple allometric growth, while foundresses and first brood females diverged in their growth parameters in the preimaginal stage.