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Annu Rev Entomol. 2001;46:347-85.

Tests of reproductive-skew models in social insects.

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  • 1Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-2702, USA. hkr1@cornell.edu


Reproductive-skew theory can be broadly divided into transactional models, in which reproduction is shared among group members in return for some fitness benefit, and tug-of-war models, in which reproductive sharing arises solely from an inability of each group member to fully control the others. For small-colony social insects in which complete reproductive control by a single individual is plausible, transactional-concession models account, better than any other existing model, for observed relationships between each of the dependent variables of skew, changes in reproductive partitioning over time, group size, and within-group aggression, and each of the predictor variables of genetic relatedness, ecological constraints on solitary breeding, and benefits of group living. An extension of transactional-concession models via the "workers-as-a-collective-dominant" model potentially offers new insights into some of the most striking reproductive patterns in large-colony eusocial Hymenopteran species, from the loss of worker capacity to produce female offspring to patterns of skew and aggression in polygynous societies.

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