Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Journal or Book Title
1. Animal nutritional state can profoundly affect behavior, including an individual’s tendency to cooperate with others. We investigated how nutritional restriction at different life stages affects cooperative behavior in a highly social species, Apis mellifera honey bees.
2. We found that nutritional restriction affects a worker’s queen pheromone response, a behavioral indicator of investment in group vs. individual reproduction. Nutritional restriction at the larval stage led to reduced ovary size and increased queen pheromone response, whereas nutritional restriction at the adult stage led to reduced lipid stores and reduced queen pheromone response.
3. We argue that these differences depend upon the extent of reproductive plasticity at these life stages, and that individual worker honey bees may adjust their behavioral and physiological traits in response to nutritional stress to invest nutritional resources in either their own or their colony’s reproduction.
4. These results support the role of nutritional stress in the maintenance of cooperative behavior and we suggest that historical nutritional scarcity may be an important contributor to the evolution of extreme forms of cooperation.
The Authors; Journal compilation British Ecological Society
Walton, Alexander; Dolezal, Adam G.; Bakken, Marit A.; and Toth, Amy L., "Hungry for the queen: honey bee nutritional environment affects worker pheromone response in a life‐stage dependent manner" (2018). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 302.