A plethora of recent models examines how genetic and environmental factors might influence partitioning of reproduction ('skew') in animal societies, but empirical data are sparse. We used three microsatellite loci to estimate skew on 13 nests of the Malaysian hover wasp, Liostenogaster flavolineata. Groups are small in L. flavolineata (1-10 females) and all females are capable of mating and laying eggs. Despite considerable variation between nests in parameters expected to influence skew, skew was uniformly high. On 11 of the 13 nests, all female eggs had been laid by a single dominant female. A second female had laid one to two out of 5-10 eggs respectively on the two remaining nests. A likelihood analysis suggested that on average, 90% of the male eggs had also been laid by the dominant. The slightly lower skew among male eggs might reflect the lower average relatedness of subordinates to male versus female offspring of the dominant. We suggest that high skew in L. flavolineata may result from strong ecological constraints and a relatively high probability that a subordinate will eventually inherit the dominant, egg-laying position.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
|Published - 22 Jan 2002
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