The Influence of Maternal Quality on Brood Sex Allocation in the Small Carpenter Bee, Ceratina calcarata


Sandra M. Rehan, Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1, Canada.


In the twig-nesting carpenter bee, Ceratina calcarata, body size is an important component of maternal quality, smaller mothers producing significantly fewer and smaller offspring than larger mothers. As mothers precisely control the sex and size of each offspring, smaller mothers might compensate by preferentially allocating their investment towards sons. We investigated whether variation in maternal quality leads to variation in sex allocation patterns. At the population level, the numerical sex ratio was 57% male-biased (1.31 M/F), but the investment between the sexes was balanced (1.02 M/F), because females are 38% larger than males (1.28 F/M). Maternal body size explained both sex allocation pattern and size variation among offspring: larger mothers invested more in individual progeny and produced more female offspring than smaller mothers. Maternal investment in offspring of both sexes decreased throughout the season, probably as a result of increasing maternal wear and age. The exception to this pattern was the curious production of dwarf females in the first two brood cell positions. We suggest that the sex ratio distribution reflects the maternal body size distribution and a constraint on small mothers to produce small broods. This leads to male-biased allocation by small females, to which large mothers respond by biasing their allocation towards daughters.