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Asymmetric larval mobility and the evolutionary transition from siblicide to nonsiblicidal behavior in parasitoid wasps

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Publication details

JournalBehavioral Ecology
DatePublished - 2003
Issue number2
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)182-193
Original languageEnglish


The widespread evolution of gregarious development in parasitoid wasps presents a theoretical challenge because the conditions under which larval tolerance can spread in an intolerant population are very stringent (the individual fitness of larvae developing together must increase with clutch size). Recent empirical work has suggested that gregarious development can arise through the loss of larval mobility rather than through the gain of tolerant behavior. Using analytical genetic models, we explored whether decreased mobility presents a less stringent route to gregariousness than the gain of tolerance. Reduced mobility can spread under a wide range of conditions. The critical condition for the spread of immobility is much less stringent than that for larval tolerance. In contrast with previous models of tolerance, the criterion for the spread of a rare immobility allele is independent of any bias in the sex ratio and the likelihood of single sex broods. Superparasitism increases the stringency of the criterion for the spread of immobility, whereas double killing relaxes the criterion. Tolerance can subsequently replace immobility if there is any cost to the retention of fighting ability. Our results suggest that asymmetric larval mobility may explain many instances of the evolution of gregarious development.

    Research areas

  • clutch size, Hymenoptera, larval behavior, parent-offspring conflict, population-genetic models, PARENT-OFFSPRING CONFLICT, CLUTCH SIZE, GREGARIOUS DEVELOPMENT, EGG LOAD, SOLITARY, COMPETITION, AGGRESSION, SELECTION, DECISIONS, BROODS

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