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Colony pace: a life-history trait affecting social insect epidemiology
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Number of Authors: 2
2016 (English)In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 283, no 1822, 20151919Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Among colonies of social insects, the worker turnover rate (colony 'pace') typically shows considerable variation. This has epidemiological consequences for parasites, because in 'fast-paced' colonies, with short-lived workers, the time of parasite residence in a given host will be reduced, and further transmission may thus get less likely. Here, we test this idea and ask whether pace is a life-history strategy against infectious parasites. We infected bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) with the infectious gut parasite Crithidia bombi, and experimentally manipulated birth and death rates to mimic slow and fast pace. We found that fewer workers and, importantly, fewer last-generation workers that are responsible for rearing sexuals were infected in colonies with faster pace. This translates into increased fitness in fast-paced colonies, as daughter queens exposed to fewer infected workers in the nest are less likely to become infected themselves, and have a higher chance of founding their own colonies in the next year. High worker turnover rate can thus act as a strategy of defence against a spreading infection in social insect colonies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 283, no 1822, 20151919
Keyword [en]
life history, host-parasite interaction, non-immunological defence, social insects, Bombus, worker longevity
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126900DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1919ISI: 000368441200003OAI: diva2:903890
Available from: 2016-02-17 Created: 2016-02-16 Last updated: 2016-02-17Bibliographically approved

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Buechel, Severine Denise
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