A6: Packer, L. 1986. Multiple foundress associations in a temperate population of Halictus ligatus (Hymenoptera; Halictidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology. 64:2325-2332.
Abstract: Thirteen pleometrotic (multiple-foundress) nests of the primitively social sweat bee Halictus ligatus were excavated in the summer of 1984 at Victoria, near Toronto, southern Ontario. Subordinate foundresses were significantly smaller than both dominant females in pleometrotic nests and females that nested solitarily. Most subordinates were smaller than the workers that they helped to raise. These small females could have been surviving workers from the previous summer or the offspring of workers. It seems likely that they were malnourished reproductive brood individuals produced as a result of parental manipulation. In successful nests, the number of workers produced was positively correlated with the number of founding females such that productivity per foundress remained fairly constant. Pleometrotic nests also produced more reproductives than haplometrotic (single-foundress) ones. Subordinates may occasionally lay reproductive brood eggs. The increased productivity of multiple-foundress nests was not quite sufficient, by itself, to select for subordinate behaviour. The small subordinates had lower potential productivities in comparison to the larger females. This decreased reproductive potential, when combined with the increased productivity of pleometrotic nests, was sufficient to make subordinate behaviour selectively advantageous. When both factors are taken together, subordinate behaviour is selected for as long as the coefficient of relatedness between dominant and subordinate individuals is greater than ¼. This indicates that high coefficients of relatedness are not necessary for pleometrosis to be selectively advantageous under the conditions found in this study. Dominant females may suffer increased reproductive competition from their numerous workers. This, plus the difficulty of ensuring association with siblings in spring, may be the reason why multiple-foundress associations were uncommon at this locality. The data presented here are compared with those from other studies of this species. The factors promoting pleometrosis in halictines are compared with those that result in multiple-foundress associations in temperate polistine wasps.