No Synergy Needed: Ecological Constraints Favor the Evolution of Eusociality
Avila, P., & Fromhage, L. (2015). No Synergy Needed: Ecological Constraints Favor the Evolution of Eusociality. American Naturalist, 186 (1), 31-40. doi:10.1086/681637
Published inAmerican Naturalist
DisciplineEkologia ja evoluutiobiologia
© 2015 by The University of Chicago. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
In eusocial species, some individuals sacrifice their own reproduction for the benefit of others. It has been argued that the evolution of sterile helpers in eusocial insects requires synergistic efficiency gains through cooperation that are uncommon in cooperatively breeding vertebrates and that this precludes a universal ecological explanation of social systems with alloparental care. In contrast, using a model that incorporates realistic ecological mechanisms of population regulation, we show here that constraints on independent breeding (through nest-site limitation and dispersal mortality) eliminate any need for synergistic efficiency gains: sterile helpers may evolve even if they are relatively inefficient at rearing siblings, reducing their colony’s per-capita productivity. Our approach connects research fields by using hypotheses developed for cooperative breeding to explain the evolution of eusociality. The results suggest that these hypotheses may apply more generally than previously thought. ...