ABS 2022
Social partner choice in Paper wasps
Emily C. Laub1, Noa Pinter-Wollman2, Elizabeth A. Tibbetts1. 1University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States; 2University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States

Theory suggests that positive assortment between beneficial cooperators may play a role in the evolution of cooperation. However, little empirical work has tested the individual traits linked with cooperative behavior or the process by which social partners are chosen. Paper wasps (P. fuscatus) provide an opportunity to investigate how individuals choose social partners. Paper wasp nest-founding queens synchronously “shop” for social partners, engaging with many potential nest-mates before settling on cooperative nests. In this project, we use social network analysis to evaluate how individual traits (body mass, personality, and social intelligence) influence shopping behavior and assortment in queens. With three years of field studies, we evaluated wasp traits, individually marked them, released them into a large enclosure provisioned with nest sites, and then recorded associations. Body mass and social intelligence significantly impact both the process and outcome of partner choice, while personality did not. Our results demonstrate that social partner assessment and assortment may have an important role in the evolution of cooperation.