Max Reuter, Ken R. Helms, Laurent Lehmann, and Laurent Keller. 2004. Effects of Brood Manipulation Costs on Optimal Sex Allocation in Social Hymenoptera. American Naturalist 164: E73-E82. (Electronic article)
In eusocial Hymenoptera, queens and workers are in conflict over optimal sex allocation. Sex ratio theory, while generating predictions on the extent of this conflict under a wide range of conditions, has largely neglected the fact that worker control of investment almost certainly requires the manipulation of brood sex ratio. This manipulation is likely to incur costs, for example, if workers eliminate male larvae or rear more females as sexuals rather than workers. In this article, we present a model of sex ratio evolution under worker control that incorporates costs of brood manipulation. We assume cost to be a continuous, increasing function of the magnitude of sex ratio manipulation. We demonstrate that costs counterselect sex ratio biasing, which leads to less female-biased population sex ratios than expected on the basis of relatedness asymmetry. Furthermore, differently shaped cost functions lead to different equilibria of manipulation at the colony level. While linear and accelerating cost functions generate monomorphic equilibria, decelerating costs lead to a process of evolutionary branching and hence split sex ratios.