Meeting Abstract

P1.74  Wednesday, Jan. 4  The Effects of Food Availability on the Workforce of a Social Insect: Response of Worker Production in Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) Colonies When Food Availability is Manipulated DUONG, Nhi*; DAVIDOWITZ, Goggy; University of Arizona; University of Arizona

Animals range in a continuum from solitary living to social living. Characteristic of highly social animals is their division of labor, where individuals divide both reproductive and work efforts. Such highly social organisms include naked mole rats, termites, ants, and bees. Sterile workers make up most of a social group’s population size, and work is divided amongst them based primarily on dominance, age, or size. In a morphological division of labor, workers vary tremendously in their size. For instance, workers within bumble bee colonies can vary up to 10 times in body mass- five times more than in other social insects. Because division of labor affects colony fitness in social insects, worker size variation within colonies could affect fitness in colonies that have a morphological division of labor. Thus, it is important to know how ecologically relevant variables, such as food availability, impacts worker size variation. In our study, we manipulated food availability in bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) colonies such that they had ‘unlimited’ or ‘limited’ access to food. We recorded the following data: body size of all emerged workers, worker size variation within colonies, and colony fitness. We discuss the effects of our food availability manipulations on our colonies.