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The look of royalty: visual and odour signals of reproductive status in a paper wasp

Abstract

Reproductive conflicts within animal societies occur when all females can potentially reproduce. In social insects, these conflicts are regulated largely by behaviour and chemical signalling. There is evidence on the presence of signals, which provides direct information about the quality of the reproductive females would increase the fitness of all parties. In this study, we present an association between visual and chemical signals in the paper wasp Polistes satan. Our results showed that the in nest-founding phase colonies, variation of visual signals is linked to relative fertility, while chemical signals are related to dominance status. In addition, experiments revealed that higher hierarchical positions were occupied by subordinates with distinct proportions of cuticular hydrocarbons and distinct visual marks. Therefore, these wasps present cues that convey reliable information of their reproductive status. (AU)

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