Kin Recognition in the largely Solitary Bee, Manuelia postica (Apidae: Xylocopinae)


Luis Flores-Prado, Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 653, Santiago, Chile.


The recognition of conspecifics is a central issue to social behaviour. In eusocial hymenopterans, kin recognition has been clearly demonstrated. Manuelia postica is a largely solitary bee species in which larvae develop inside individual cells within a nest and remain isolated from conspecifics until the destruction of partitions by adults. Nestmate recognition in M. postica has been previously demonstrated under experimental conditions. Isolation between individuals during development and nestmate recognition ability in adult females make M. postica an ideal species for testing the occurrence of kin recognition capacity in females. Kin recognition was demonstrated through cross-fostering field experiments involving the single transfer of recently enclosed larvae, and subsequent laboratory recognition bioassays with emerging females. Results suggest kin recognition occurs through self-referent phenotype matching. Given the basal position of Manuelia in the phylogeny of the Apidae, kin recognition may represent an ancestral recognition mechanism in Apidae species phylogenetically more derived than M. postica.