The Function of Male Dominance in the Eusocial Wasp, Mischocyttarus mastigophorus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)
Version of Record online: 25 DEC 2001
Volume 105, Issue 3, pages 273–282, March 1999
How to Cite
O’Donnell, S. (1999), The Function of Male Dominance in the Eusocial Wasp, Mischocyttarus mastigophorus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Ethology, 105: 273–282. doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0310.1999.00382.x
- Issue online: 25 DEC 2001
- Version of Record online: 25 DEC 2001
Males of a Neotropical eusocial wasp, Mischocyttarus mastigophorus, are dominant over their female nest mates. Mischocyttarus mastigophorus males behave aggressively toward females, while females rarely bite or chase males. Aggressive interactions between the sexes are behaviorally indistinguishable from dominance interactions among females. Males are long-lived as adults, and can reside on nests for periods of at least one month. Furthermore, males comprise a large proportion of post-emergence colony populations throughout much of the colony cycle. Males on the nest perform maintenance tasks at low rates, but contribute little other labor to their colonies. Males do not forage, but consume a disproportionate amount of the food (nectar and insect prey) collected by workers. Males in some colonies direct disproportionate amounts of aggression toward their queens, which may further contribute to males’ food procurement. These data suggest that adult males represent a considerable energetic and labor cost to their colonies. I hypothesize that the dominance structure of M. mastigophorus directs food resources to adult males, with the function of increasing their longevity. Increased male longevity may be selectively advantageous in tropical species such as M. mastigophorus that found new colonies throughout much or all of the year. When females initiate new nests over much of the year, individual males’ mating opportunities may be temporally distributed, favoring longer adult lifespans. Male dominance is predicted to occur in other populations of independent-founding Neotropical Polistinae with asynchronous colony foundation.