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Adult–larval vibrational communication in paper wasps: the role of abdominal wagging in Polistes dominula

Pepiciello, I; Cini, A; Nieri, R; Mazzoni, V; Cervo, R; (2018) Adult–larval vibrational communication in paper wasps: the role of abdominal wagging in Polistes dominula. Journal of Experimental Biology , 221 (20) , Article jeb186247. 10.1242/jeb.186247. Green open access

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Abstract

Communication through vibrational signals is widespread among social insects and regulates crucial social activities. Females of the social wasp Polistes dominula (Christ, 1791) produce substrate-borne vibrations on the combs by performing a conspicuous abdominal oscillatory behavior, known as abdominal wagging. Several studies have reported correlative evidence in support of its signaling role, but direct evidence is still lacking. Because abdominal wagging is strictly associated with the presence of larvae in the nest and with cell inspection, it has been suggested that it could be involved in adult-larvae communication. According to this hypothesis, abdominal wagging vibrations would have short-term effects related to food and trophallactic exchanges between adult and larvae by modulating salivary secretion (decreasing its amount, to prepare larvae to receive food, or stimulating the release of larval saliva to adults). Here, by using an electro-magnetic shaker, we assessed, for the first time, the short-term effect of abdominal wagging on larval behavior by recording larval response and by measuring the amount of saliva released immediately after abdominal wagging playback. Our results show that larvae are able to perceive the substrate-borne vibrations produced by abdominal wagging and react by increasing the movement of their body, possibly in order to attract the attention of adult females during feeding nest inspection. Yet, we found that vibrations neither increase nor decrease the release of larval saliva. Our results support the hypothesis of the alleged role of vibrations in adult-larvae communications; however, they do not support the long-lasting hypothesis of salivary release modulation.

Type: Article
Title: Adult–larval vibrational communication in paper wasps: the role of abdominal wagging in Polistes dominula
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.186247
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.186247
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Adult-brood communication, Biotremology, Larval behavior, Larval saliva, Playback experiment, Substrate-borne vibrations
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10055977
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