Morphological Differences between Reproductive and Non-reproductive Females in the Social Wasp Mischocyttarus consimilis Zikán (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Thiago Santos Montagna, William Fernando Antonialli-Junior


Phenotypic divergence plays an important role in establishment of the reproductive division of labor among castes in social insects; however, little is known about this subject in independent-founding polistine wasps. In this study, we investigated morphological differences among foundresses from associative and solitary foundations, as well as among females produced in different phases of the colony cycle in Mischocyttarus consimilis Zikán. Our results showed that the alpha foundress had significantly greater body size than auxiliary foundresses, although it did not differ in size from solitary foundresses. In addition, the alpha foundress had greater ovarian development than their auxiliary and solitary foundresses. We also demonstrated that gynes were significantly larger than workers. These results therefore suggest that the phenotype of females emerging in colonies M. consimilis can vary with the progress of the colony cycle, and that body size and ovarian condition are closely linked to the function performed by the foundress.


Caste determination; Division of labor; Dominance hierarchy; Neotropical wasp; Polistinae; Reproductive status

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