martes, 2 de diciembre de 2014
Isometric worker size variation has been found in various species of stingless bees but the adaptive value of this phenomenon is little understood. We studied intra-colony worker size variation in Melipona in relation to individual foraging preference and colony growth in periods of resource abundance and scarcity. We found significant forager size differences across colonies. In spite of this, intra-colony size of foragers collecting different resources was highly similar, suggesting that foraging preferences and flexibility are size constrained. On the other hand, inter-colony forager size was associated with parameters of colony growth, albeit differently, depending on the season. Our results suggest that isometric forager size may reflect the state of food storage, and thus, colony development in stingless bees. It seems that stingless bee communities respond to seasonal abundance and scarcity with variable cycles of individual colony growth and reduction of reserves that may explain the asynchronous reproduction of colonies, spanning years in these insects.