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Title:Proximate and ultimate factors influencing honey bee reproductive-related behavior
Author(s):Naeger, Nicholas L.
Director of Research:Robinson, Gene E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Robinson, Gene E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Berenbaum, May R.; Robertson, Hugh M.; Hansen, Allison K
Department / Program:Entomology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Honey bees
Apis mellifera
social behavior
Abstract:Investigations into animal behavior can have two different forms of inquiry. Proximate questions are concerned with how a behavior evolved and the mechanisms underlying it, while ultimate questions are concerned with the fitness consequences of a behavior and why it evolved. I have examined aspects of honey bee (Apis mellifera) reproductive-related behavior using each of these forms of inquiry. I studied colonies of queenless worker bees in order to garner suggestions about why altruistic behavior evolved in bees. In queenless colonies, the loss of kin structure that accompanies the loss of the queen leads to workers developing their ovaries and laying their own eggs. I found that even though queenless workers invest in their own reproduction as kin selection theory would suggest, they do not cease altruistic behaviors. Reproductive workers are as likely as non-reproductive workers to perform dangerous tasks and provide metabolically costly services that may reduce their own reproduction. The results suggest that honey bees gain more inclusive fitness benefits by communally maintaining a shared nest than can be gained by investing purely in their own individual reproduction, even without the kin structure provided by a queen. In another set of experiments I used a proximate line of questioning to investigate how drones (male honey bees) perform instinctive spatiotemporal flight behavior. Drones and queens make mating flights in which they instinctively fly to specific congregation areas during a specific window of time in the afternoon. I trained worker bees to forage at a feeder in a spatiotemporal manner similar to the instinctive spatiotemporal flight behavior of drones. RNA sequencing on the mushroom bodies of the brain revealed that unique gene expression changes are associated with the initiation of the instinctive behavior as compared to the learned behavior. The results indicate that the instinctive flight behavior of drones is not caused by a generalized state of arousal that precedes spatiotemporal flight, but rather by a distinct neurogenomic state that is different from the learned behavior state.
Issue Date:2015-07-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Nicholas L. Naeger
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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