Evol Ecol Res 9: 1187-1197 (2007)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

When nesting involves two sequential, mutually exclusive activities: what’s a mother to do?

Jason H. Peterson,* Bernard D. Roitberg and Ronald C. Ydenberg

Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: jhpeters@alumni.sfu.ca


Background: Parents can invest in offspring through a variety of behaviours, some of which trade off against each other, such as investment in the current brood versus investment in a future one.

Question: When should hymenopteran parents stop provisioning the current nest and decide whether to seal the entrance to the nest (e.g. with a number of leaf pieces)?

Method and key assumptions: A dynamic state variable model. We assume that mothers alter reproductive decisions based on their perception of costs and benefits of brood cell and nest construction. Some of these construction behaviours allocate investment at one or a few offspring in a brood but others affect the entire brood.

Conclusions: Several factors impact the decisions of when to cease provisioning new offspring and whether to seal the nest. Higher current nest value and greater risk of mortality increase the likelihood of both ceasing provisioning earlier and sealing the nest. The greater the benefit of sealing, either because of increased benefits or decreased negative impacts, the earlier and the more frequently it occurs.

Keywords: dynamic state variable model, Hymenoptera, nest provisioning decisions, offspring sex ratio, resource allocation, solitary bee.

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