Benefits and Costs of Secondary Polygyny in the Dampwood Termite Zootermopsis angusticollis
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Newly molted female neotenic reproductives of the dampwood termite Zootermopsis angusticollis Hagen were allowed to mature in the presence of a neotenic male, a fixed number of larval helpers, and varying numbers of sibling neotenic queens to assess the impact of secondary polygyny to the individual and colony. Under monogyne conditions, neotenics developed more ovarioles per ovary and had higher individual fecundities after 60 d compared with females under polygyne conditions. Queens in groups of three females were able to gain more body mass than those in groups of five. Although the division of resources provided by helpers reduced individual female development and fecundity under polygyne conditions, it resulted in an overall increase in colony fecundity. In addition, neotenic females in polygynous colonies did not differ significantly in reproductive competence. There was no evidence that neotenics were attacked or injured by other reproductives or larval helpers, suggesting little if any reproductive competition among sibling queens. The physiological responses of neotenics to the increasing queen/worker ratio may have the benefit of enhancing the colony growth at the cost of the fecundity of individual queens.
author list (cited authors)
Brent, C. S., Traniello, J., & Vargo, E. L.