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The influences of costs and benefits on social evolution remain poorly understood, despite their importance for explaining social behavior, and continue to fuel high-profile debates. Here, we investigate the effect of a major ecological factor, wood resource-that is, natal nest value-on reproductive decision making in the termite Cryptotermes secundus. Workers continually assess the available wood resources of the colony and adjust their developmental decisions, including investment into competition, accordingly. In particular, workers are more likely to stay and fight for inheritance within resource-rich nests. Comparable responses are seen in social wasps, which evolved sociality independently from the termites, demonstrating convergent evolution. Our results, therefore, indicate a general evolutionary link between resource wealth and societal conflict. © 2012 The Author.

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioral Ecology

Publication Date





1203 - 1208