Dominance and Subordination Interactions Among Nestmates in Pre and Post-Emergence Phases of the Basal Eusocial Wasp Mischocyttarus (Monogynoecus) montei (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)

Ivan Cesar Desuó


In basal eusocial wasps the social organization is based on a dominance hierarchy which is maintained through agonistic interactions. The dominant wasp is usually the most aggressive individual and assumes the reproductive function of the colony. These wasps lack morphological caste differences and the physiological conditions and behavioral repertoire define the role of each female in the nest. However, the position in the rank and its function in the colony are not definitive and tradeoffs in the social rank, at least in some species, are common. In this study 8 colonies of Mischocyttarus (M.) montei in pre and post-emergence phases of colonial development were observed in field conditions in order to study the interactions of dominance and subordination among nestmates, thus allowing a better understanding of the establishment of the dominance hierarchy and consequently the social regulation of this species. Our results showed that all colonies in pre-emergence were founded by an association of females which had established the hierarchy previously in their natal nest. Such pattern may contribute to the success of association during pre-emergence, once it tends to reduce conflicts among cohorts during initial phases of colonial development, increasing the chances of colonial success. During post-emergence, the conflicts tend to be more intense, usually involving more physical contacts and in this phase, tradeoffs in the social rank are more frequent. During post-emergence, the number of females increases, more cells are available to lay eggs and the reproductive condition of the main egg-layer is probably reduced, aggravating the competition for reproductive dominance of the colony.


Mischocyttarus; dominance hierarchy; Polistinae; eussocial wasps.

Full Text:



Gadagkar, R. & N.V. Joshi. 1982. Behaviour of the Indian social wasp Ropalidia cyathiformis on a nest of separate combs (Hymenopetra, Vespidae). Journal of Zoology 198:27-37.

Gadagkar, R. & N.V. Joshi. 1985. Colony fission in a social wasp. Current Science 54(2):57- 62.

Gadagkar, R. 1991. Belonogaster, Mischocyttarus, Parapolybia and independent-founding Ropalidia. In: Ross K.G. & R.W. Matthews (eds.). The Social Biology of Wasps, Ithaca(NY): Cornell University Press. p. 149-190.

Giannotti, E. & V.L.L Machado. 1997. Queen replacement in postemergent colonies of the social wasp, Polistes lanio (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 41(1):911.

Hughes, C.R. & J.E. Strassmann. 1988. Age is more important than size in determining dominance among workers in the primitively eusocial wasp, Polistes instabilis. Behaviour 107:1-14.

Itô, Y. 1985. A comparison of frequency of intra-colony agressive behaviours among five species of polistine wasps (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Journal of Comparative Ethology (Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie) 68:152-167.

Itô, Y. 1987. Roles of pleometrosis in the evolution of eusociality in wasps. In: Y. Itô, J. L. Brown & J. Kikkawa (eds.). Animal societies: theories and facts. Tokyo: Japan Society Press. p.17-34.

Itô, Y. 1983. Social behaviour of a subtropical papar wasp, Ropalidia fasciata (F.): field observations during founding stage. Journal of Ethology 1:1-14.

Jeanne, R.L. 1972. Social biology of the neotropical wasp Mischocyttarus drewseni. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 144(3):63-150.

Litte, M. 1977. Behavioural ecology of the social wasp Mischocyttarus mexicanus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Behavioral Ecolology and Sociobiology 2:229-246.

Miyano, S. 1986. Colony development, worker behavior and male production in orphan colonies of a Japanese paper wasp, Polistes chinensis antennalis (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Polistinae). Researches on Population Ecology 28:347-361.

Murakami, A. S. N. & S.N. Shima. 2006. Nutritional and social hierarchy establishment of the primitively eusocial wasp Mischocyttarus cassununga (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Mischocyttarini) and related aspects. Sociobiology 48:183–207.

Murakami, A.S.N. & S.N. Shima. 2009. Queen replacement in Mischocyttarus (Monocyttarus) cassununga (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Mischocyttarini): a particular case. Sociobiology 53(1):1-11.

Murakami, A.S.N. & S.N. Shima. 2010. Regulation of Social Hierarchy Over Time in Colonies of the Primitive Eusocial Wasp Mischocyttarus (Monocyttarus) cassununga. Von Ihering 1903 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Journal of Kansas Entomological Society 82(2):163-171.

Noda, S. C. M., E.R. Silva & E. Giannotti. 2001. Dominance hierarchy in different stages of development in colonies of the primitively eusocial wasp Mischocyttarus Cerberus styx (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Sociobiology 38(3): 603–614.

O’Donnell, S. 1998. Dominance and polyethism in the social wasp Miachocyttarus mastigophorus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Behaviral Ecolology and Sociobiology 43:327-331.

Oliveira, V. C. 2003. Comportamentos de dominância e subordinação da vespa eussocial primitiva Mischocyttarus (Monogynoecus) montei ZIKÁN 1949 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Mischocyttarini). Scientific initiation, UNESP—Campus de Rio Claro, Rio Claro. 71 pp.

Oliveira, V. C. 2007. Diferenciação etológica e morfofisiológica das castas de Mischocyttarus (Monogynoecus) montei, Zikán 1903 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Mischocyttarini), com especial referência à regulação social das colônias. Master thesis, UNESP—Campus de Rio Claro; Rio Claro; 159 pp.

Pardi, P. 1948. Dominance order in Polistes wasps. Physiological Zoology 21:1-13.

Prezoto, F, A.P.P. Vilela, M.A.P. Lima, S. D’Ávila, D.M.S. Sinzato, F.R. Andrade, H.H. Santos-Prezoto & E. Giannotti. 2004. Dominance hierarchy in different stages of development in colonies of the eusocial wasp Mischocyttarus cassununga (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Sociobiology 44(2): 379–390.

Reeve, H.K. 1991. Polistes. In: Ross K.G. & R.W. Matthews (eds.). The Social Biology of Wasps., Ithaca(NY): Cornell University Press. p. 99-149.

Röseller, P.F. 1991. Reproductive Competition during Colony Establishment. In: K.G. Ross & R. W. Matthews (eds.). The Social Biology of Wasps, Ithaca (NY): Cornell University Press. p. 309-335.

Silveira, O.T. 2008. Phylogeny of wasps of the genus Mischocyttarus de Saussure (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Polistinae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 52(4):510-549.

Spradbery, J.P. 1973. Wasps. London: Sidgewick & Jackson. 408 p.

Strassmann, J. E. 1981. Wasp reproduction and kin selection: reproductive competition and dominance hierarchies among Polistes annularis foundresses. Florida Entomologist 64:74-88.

Strassmann, J.E. & D.C. Meyer. 1983. Gerontocracy in the social wasp Polistes exclamans. Animal Behavior 31:431-438.

Tindo, M. & A. Dejean. 2000. Dominance hierarchy in colonies of Belonogaster juncea juncea (Vespidae, Polistinae). Insectes Sociaux 47:158-163.

West-Eberhard, M. J. 1986. Dominance relations in Polistes Canadensis (L.), a tropical social wasp. Monitore Zoologico Italiano 20:263–281.

West-Eberhard, M. J. 1969. The social biology of polistine wasps. Miscellaneous publications (University of Michigan. Museum of Zoology) 140:1-101.

Wilson, E.O. 1971. The insect socities. Cambridge (Mass): Belknap Press-Harvard University Press. p. 548.

Yamane, S. 1985. Social relations among females in pre and post-emergence colonies of a subtropical paper wasp, Parapolybia varia (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Journal of Ethology 3:27–38.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.504