BIO 555/755
Behavioral Ecology

Insect Sociality


Degrees of sociality:

Degrees of sociality
Cooperative 
brood 
care
Reproductive 
castes
Overlap 
between 
generations




Solitary
-
-
-
Communal - females cooperate in constructing nest
but rear broods separately
-
-
-
Quasisocial - cooperative care but each female
still lays eggs
+
-
-
Semisocial - addition of 'worker' caste; some
colony members never reproduce
+
+
-
Eusocial - when semisocial colonies persist
long enough for generations to overlap
+
+
+
Degrees of sociality
Cooperative
brood 
care
Reproductive
castes
Overlap
between
generations




Solitary
-
-
-
Primitively subsocial - female provides care for 
a time but departs before young eclose as adults
-
-
-
Intermediate subsocial I - female present when 
young mature
-
-
+
Intermediate subsocial II - some of the young
provide for the next brood
+
-
+
Eusocial - mature offspring remain permanently
rather than leaving to rear own young
+
+
+

 

Caste differentiation in some eusocial insects:


From left to right: Queen, Winged male, Major worker, & Minor worker.


Origins of eusocial nesting - two potentially important factors:


Useful links:

Ant colony life cycle

Ant information

Living with Ants and The Science of E.O. Wilson

Myrmecology: The Scientific Study of Ants

Social insects

The Evolutionary Dynamics of Social Organization in Insect Societies


Back to Behavioral Ecology syllabus