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When resistance is useless: policing and the evolution of reproductive acquiescence in insect societies

Wenseleers, T., Hart, A.G. and Ratnieks, F.L.W. (2004) When resistance is useless: policing and the evolution of reproductive acquiescence in insect societies. American Naturalist, 164 (6). E154-E167. ISSN 0003-0147


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In social groups composed of kin, inclusive fitness benefits can favor greater cooperation. Alternatively, cooperation can be enforced through the policing of less cooperative individuals. Here, we show that the effect of policing can be twofold: not only can it directly suppress individual selfishness, it can also entirely remove the incentive for individuals to act selfishly in the first place. We term such individual restraint in response to socially imposed policing "acquiescence" and illustrate the concept using examples drawn from the social Hymenoptera (the ants, bees, and wasps). Inclusive fitness models confirm that when a policing system is in place, individuals should be less tempted to act selfishly. This is shown to have important consequences for the resolution of conflict within their societies. For example, it can explain why in many species very few workers attempt to reproduce and why immature females usually do not attempt to develop as queens rather than workers. Although our analyses are primarily focused on the social insects, our conclusions are likely to be general and to apply to other societies as well.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2004 The University of Chicago. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: social policing, altruism, acquiescence, social insects, worker reproduction, caste conflict
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2014 01:10
Published Version: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AN/journal/issues...
Status: Published
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1302

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