UCL logo

UCL Discovery

UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Fight or fool? Physical strength, instead of sensory deception, matters in host nest invasion by a wasp social parasite

Cini, A; Bruschini, C; Poggi, L; Cervo, R; (2011) Fight or fool? Physical strength, instead of sensory deception, matters in host nest invasion by a wasp social parasite. Animal Behaviour , 81 (6) pp. 1139-1145. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.02.017.

Full text not available from this repository.

Abstract

Insect social parasites need to overcome host colonies' defences to exploit their resources successfully. Sophisticated sensory deception mechanisms to break the host's barriers have been repeatedly reported for many social parasites, possibly concealing the importance of open fighting, a more ancestral strategy. Understanding the relative importance of fooling and fighting is primarily challenging when the two strategies seem both available and advantageous. We focused on the paper wasp social parasite-host system Polistes sulcifer-P. dominulus, where both fooling and fighting have been suggested to play a role during usurpation contests. Host aggression is elicited by the chemical cues (hydrocarbons) that intruders bear on their cuticle. Parasites would benefit from reducing the amount of these cues before approaching the host colony. In addition, the parasites' facial pattern has been shown to reduce the host's aggressive reaction, probably by amplifying the mandibular width. We tested the occurrence of chemical and visual cheating through chemical analyses and laboratory usurpation trials, respectively. Usurping parasites did not conceal their identity by reducing cuticular hydrocarbons, nor did their facial pattern facilitate nest take-over. Contest outcome was instead predicted by the relative body size of the opponents. Fighting, rather than fooling, is therefore the strategy used by P. sulcifer usurping females. The importance of physical strength could thus explain why chemical or visual tricks do not play a role in taking over the host colony despite their potential usefulness. Our findings suggest that the evolution of sophisticated cheating mechanisms can be prevented by the ability to fight. © 2011 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Type: Article
Title: Fight or fool? Physical strength, instead of sensory deception, matters in host nest invasion by a wasp social parasite
DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.02.017
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Biosciences (Division of) > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1564433
Downloads since deposit
0Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item