Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Social Behaviour in an Australian Allodapine Bee Exoneura (Brevineura) xanthoclypeata (Hymenoptera : Apidae)

Simon M. Tierney, Michael P. Schwarz and M. Adams

Australian Journal of Zoology 45(4) 385 - 398
Published: 1997


The allodapine bees are well suited for comparative studies of social evolution because of the wide variation in social behaviour within and between genera. There are three main clades in the endemic Australian genus Exoneura. Two groups (Exoneura sensu stricto and Exoneurella) have received extensive study. In this paper we provide the first detailed study of social behaviour in the third group, Brevineura, based on a heathland population of Exoneura (B.) xanthoclypeata Rayment. This species has two seasonal pulses of egg-laying and brood rearing occurs throughout most of the year, including winter. This extended period of egg-laying and brood development differs from the two other Australian Exoneura subgenera and provides extensive opportunities for eusocial-like sib-rearing. Dissection data indicate that reproductive differentiation among adult nestmates is well developed and dependent on body size, with smaller females being mostly or entirely non-reproductive. Per capita brood production is dramatically higher in multi-female nests than in single-female nests and relatedness between adult nestmates is moderately high (r ≈ 0·5). These two factors suggest that local fitness enhancement may be occurring and our limited sex allocation data suggest female-biased ratios. Because of the opportunities for sib-rearing in this species, local fitness enhancement has the potential to lower selective thresholds for eusociality.

© CSIRO 1997

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