Cumulative effects of body size and social experience on aggressive behaviour in a subsocial bee

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire, 46 College Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA

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Dominance hierarchies represent some of nature’s most rudimentary social structures, and aggression is key to their establishment in many animal species. Previous studies have focused on the relative influences of prior experience and physiological traits of individuals in determining social rank through aggression. Here we examine the behavioural potential for dominance hierarchy formation in the subsocial small carpenter bee, Ceratina calcarata. Both physiological traits and social experience were found to play partial roles in predicting future interactive behaviour in this species. Our results suggest that individual size is associated with dominance in initial encounters, while prior experience plays a larger role in predicting dominance in subsequent encounters. Social systems in the early stages of social evolution may well have followed these same predictive factors and these factors are key targets for future studies of social evolution and the behavioural origins of dominance hierarchies.

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