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Title: Information gathering and conflict resolution in Polistes wasps
Author: Green, Jonathan Philip
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2012
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Signals are used to communicate resource-holding potential (RHP) to rivals during contests across a wide range of taxa. A controversial subset of RHP signals are status signals. In the last decade, research on North American populations of the paper wasp Polistes dominulus has provided evidence for a visual status signal based on variable clypeal patterns. However, observations of P. dominulus in its native European range indicate that the use of status signals across populations might be limited in this species. In Part I of this thesis (Chapters 3-5), I investigate status signalling in a Spanish population of P. dominulus. Using choice experiments, I show that clypeal patterns do not signal RHP in the Spanish population. Using large-scale field observations and microsatellite sequencing, I then show that patterns do not reflect individual quality in the wild. Together, these results strongly suggest that the clypeal pattern does not function in conflict resolution in the Spanish population. I conclude Part I by exploring the development of the clypeal patterns. I show that pattern expression is strongly temperature-dependent. This finding may provide an explanation for the variation in the signal value of clypeal patterns between populations. Contests among paper wasps are not limited to conspecific interactions, but may involve interactions with social parasites. In Parts II and III of this thesis (Chapters 6-7), I explore interactions between P. dominulus and the social parasite P. semenowi in the contexts of nest usurpation and conflict over reproduction. By experimentally staging usurpation contests, I show that neither parasites nor hosts gather information about rivals during nest usurpation. I then compare reproduction in parasitised and unparasitised colonies to test the predictions of competing models of reproductive skew. Incomplete control models receive qualified support; however, assumptions of skew models about players' information gathering abilities are questioned.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QL0463 Insects