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Volume 2011, Article ID 501381, 8 pages
Research Article

The Effects of the Social Hierarchy Destabilization on the Foraging Activity of Eusocial Wasp Mischocyttarus cerberus styx Richards, 1940 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae)

Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, UNESP, Avenida 24-A, 1515, 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil

Received 23 February 2011; Revised 11 April 2011; Accepted 5 June 2011

Academic Editor: Felipe Andrés León Contrera

Copyright © 2011 Vanderlei Conceição Costa Filho et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The genus Mischocyttarus comprises 245 species of neotropical basal eusocial wasps. They form small colonies (rarely more than few tens of individuals); castes are morphologically undifferentiated and determined behaviorally by agonistic interactions. The aim of this study was to verify the effects of the experimental disruption of social hierarchy on foraging activity of Mischocyttarus cerberus styx. We observed six colonies in postemergence phase and recorded data on the foraging activity under two experimental conditions: (1) removal of lower-ranked females and (2) removal of higher ranked females, except the queen. Our results showed that the removal of higher-ranked females had higher effect on the number of foraging trips of M. cerberus styx than the removal of lower-ranked females (the number of foraging trips/hour decreased by 66.4% and 32.7%, resp.). Such results are likely due to the social organization of this species and the presence of a distinct class of females, which in this study were regarded as intermediates. Our data also showed that, irrespective of the hierarchical status of the females, the removal of two or three individuals affected significantly the number of foraging trips in this species.