Journal article

Solitary bees reduce investment in communication compared with their social relatives

Bernadette Wittwer, Abraham Hefetz, Tovit Simon, Li EK Murphy, Mark A Elgar, Naomi E Pierce, Sarah D Kocher

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | National Academy of Sciences | Published : 2017


Social animals must communicate to define group membership and coordinate social organization. For social insects, communication is predominantly mediated through chemical signals, and as social complexity increases, so does the requirement for a greater diversity of signals. This relationship is particularly true for advanced eusocial insects, including ants, bees, and wasps, whose chemical communication systems have been well-characterized. However, we know surprisingly little about how these communication systems evolve during the transition between solitary and group living. Here, we demonstrate that the sensory systems associated with signal perception are evolutionarily labile. In part..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by NSF

Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Jason Gibbs for sharing the tree files for his 2012 phylogeny; and Carolyn Marks (Center for Nanoscale Systems, Harvard University) and John Schreiber (Princeton Institute for Science and Technology of Materials) for advice and guidance with eSEM imaging. This work was supported by Holsworth Research Wildlife funding (to B.W.), by NSF Grant IOS-1257543 (to N.E.P. and S.D.K.), by Australian Research Council Grants DP0987360 and DP120100162 (to M.A.E.), by The Norman and Rose Lederer Chair of Biology (A.H.), and by Princeton University.