Kin Associations during Nest Founding in an Allodapine Bee Exoneura robusta: do Females Distinguish between Relatives and Familiar Nestmates?

Authors

  • Nicholas J. Bull,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University of South Australia, and Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum, Adelaide
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  • Mark Adams

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University of South Australia, and Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum, Adelaide
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Corresponding author: Nicholas J. Bull, School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. E-mail: Nicholas.Bull@flinders.edu.au

Abstract

True recognition of kin can have important fitness consequences in terms of directing altruistic behaviours toward close relatives (nepotism) and avoiding inbreeding. However, recent evidence suggests that some social insect species cannot or do not distinguish their closest relatives from among nestmates in important fitness-based contexts. Such findings are relevant to kin selection theories where individuals are expected to preferentially rear close relatives in order to gain inclusive fitness benefits. Here, allozyme markers are used to examine whether female Exoneura robusta individuals preferentially nest with their closest kin when given a choice of familiar previous nestmates. The results suggest these bees do not prefer kin over non-kin nestmates. Kin associations during nest founding in this species are probably due to philopatry and/or association with previously familiar nestmates.

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