Frank, S. A., and Crespi, B. J. 1989. Synergism between sib rearing and sex ratio in Hymenoptera. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 24:155-162.

In many bees and wasps, solitary females produce offspring without help from other females. The transition from lone mothers producing offspring to situations in which females often help to rear siblings is an important step in the origins of complex sociality and nonreproductive castes. Recent work on Hymenoptera has stressed the role of sex ratio variation in this transition; when a motherÕs brood is more female biased than average, older daughters are favored to help rear their younger siblings because they are more closely related to sisters than to their own offspring. Here the direction of causality is from biased sex ratios, which arise by some extrinsic mechanism, to the origins of sib-rearing (eusociality). We present a model in which there is a synergism between sib-rearing and female-biased sex ratios, which may either complement the sex ratio variation idea by increasing the rate at which helping spreads or be an alternative hypothesis about the origins of eusociality. The synergism in our model depends on three conditions. 1) Daughters that help cause more food to be provisioned per offspring, which in turn causes larger offspring. 2) Females gain more than males by being large, which favors mothers with helpers to produce a higher proportion of daughters. 3) A helper’s inclusive fitness rises as her mother’s brood becomes increasingly female biased because a female helper is more closely related to her sisters than to her brothers. A female helper may also be more closely related to her sisters than to her own offspring, but this particular sibling-offspring relatedness asymmetry is not required by the synergism model. These three conditions create a synergism which favors a rapid transition from solitary (subsocial) to eusocial. Demographic and ecological factors that facilitate the evolution of eusociality reduce the stringency of the relatedness asymmetry condition (3) required by our idea. The synergism model therefore complements factors other than relatedness that may have been important during the evolution of eusociality.


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