Fighting in fig wasps: Do males avoid killing brothers or do they never meet them?
Cook JM., Reuter C., Moore JC., West SA.
© 2015 The Royal Entomological Society. 1. In many fig wasp species, armoured wingless males regularly engage in lethal fights for access to females inside figs, which act as discrete mating patches. 2. Kin selection generally opposes killing brothers, because their reproductive success provides indirect genetic benefits (inclusive fitness). However, siblicide may be avoided if (i) brothers do not occur in the same figs, or (ii) males avoid fighting brothers in the same fig. Alternatively, (iii) siblicide may occur because intense mate competition between brothers at the local scale overcomes kin selection effects, or (iv) males do not recognise kin. 3. A fig may also contain wasps from other closely related species and it is not known if males also fight with these individuals. 4. Nine microsatellite loci were used in the first genetic analysis of fighting in fig wasps. We assigned species and sibling identities to males and tested alternative fighting scenarios for three Sycoscapter wasp species in figs of Ficus rubiginosa. 5. Approximately 60% of figs contained males from more than one Sycoscapter species and approximately 80% of fights were between conspecifics, but a surprising 20% were between heterospecific males. 6. Within species, few figs contained brothers, suggesting that females typically lay one son per fig. Overall, most males do not compete with brothers and all fights observed were between unrelated males.