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The Social Biology of Ropalidia marginata: Towards an Understanding of the Evolution of Eusociality

By: Raghavendra Gadagkar(Author)

368 pages, 74 b/w illustrations, 28 tables

Harvard University Press

Hardback | Nov 2001 | #124290 | ISBN: 0674006119
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £93.95 $122/€107 approx

About this book

Found throughout southern India, Ropalidia marginata is a primitively eusocial wasp – a species in which queens and workers do not differ morphologically and even the latter retain the ability to reproduce. This results in long-lived dynasties, in which old queens are replaced by young and healthy ones and new colonies are continually founded. The author suggests that ecological, physiological and demographic factors may be more important than genetic relatedness in the selection for or against social traits.

"This is a very readable introduction to facts and concepts by a leading authority on social wasps who has a deep understanding of evolutionary principles. Using entertaining anecdotes to illustrate important observations, Gadagkar expertly summarizes the remarkable studies he and his students conducted over a period of more than twenty years. A major accomplishment."
– Mary Jane West-Eberhard, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

"This is a wonderful book about a detailed investigation of a single species of social wasp. Raghavendra Gadagkar and his colleagues have carried out a thorough study of Ropalidia marginata Lepeletier and developed ideas about the origins and maintenance of eusociality, currently topics of great interest [...] I have read [this book] twice from cover to cover completely captivated by the detailed studies on this social wasp. I have no hesitation in strongly recommending this book."
– M. E. Archer, Entomologist's Monthly Magazine



Part I: Introduction
1. A Primer of Eusociality
2. In Praise of Ropalidia

Part II: Social Biology
3. Some Methodological Necessities
4. Natural History
5. Behavioral Caste Differentiation
6. Dominance Behavior and Regulation of Worker Activity
7. Age and Division of Labor

Part III: The Evolution of Eusociality
8. The Theoretical Framework
9. Genetic Predisposition I: Intracolony Genetic Relatedness
10. Genetic Predisposition II: Kin and Nestmate Recognition
11. Ecological Predisposition
12. Physiological Predisposition
13. Demographic Predisposition
14. Synthesis
15. Factors That Remain to Be Explored

Part IV: Beyond Ropalidia marginata: Social Evolution, Forward and Reverse
16. A Route to Sociality
17. The Evolution of Caste Polymorphism
18. Reverse Social Evolution


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Raghavendra Gadagkar is Professor and Chairman of the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science and Honorary Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, India. He is the author of Survival Strategies: Cooperation and Conflict in Animal Societies.

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