The Behavioral Ecology of a Wasp Invasion
Abstract: Invasive social insects employ a variety of behavioral tactics to establish in non-native ranges and compete with native congeners. It is not enough to quantify the negative impacts of these invasive species on natives. In order to fully understand the invasion biology of social insects, we must also understand their social behavior, and how it might facilitate their establishment and ... read morepotential competitive advantage. Here, I investigate the invasion biology of the European paper wasp Polistes dominula in the United States, as well as its interactions with the native wasps P. exclamans, P. metricus, and especially the Northern paper wasp P. fuscatus. I identified key climatic patterns in the cooperative behavior of these four species in the United States as well as the European paper wasp's native range in the Mediterranean. I found stronger nestmate discrimination in the European paper wasp than the Northern paper wasp, both in conspecific and heterospecific encounters, and noted strongest discrimination in the European paper wasp early in the colony cycle. Finally, for the first time, I quantified demographic impacts of the European paper wasp on the Northern paper wasp in natural field sites. I not only observed negative impacts of the European paper wasp in its non-native range, I identified potential behavioral mechanisms by which those impacts could manifest, and provided an important case study of an invasive social insect with reduced cooperative behavior and a restrictive discrimination threshold in its non-native range.
Thesis (M.S.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Biology.
Advisor: Philip Starks.
Committee: Sara Lewis, and Erik Dopman.
Keyword: Ecology.read less