Pheromones mediating social behavior are critical components in the cohesion and function of the colony and are instrumental in the evolution of eusocial insect species. However, different aspects of colony function, such as reproductive division of labor and colony maintenance (e.g. foraging, brood care, and defense), pose different challenges for the optimal function of pheromones. While reproductive communication is shaped by forces of conflict and competition, colony maintenance calls for enhanced cooperation and self-organization. Mechanisms that ensure efficacy, adaptivity and evolutionary stability of signals such as structure-to-function suitability, honesty and context are important to all chemical signals but vary to different degrees between pheromones regulating reproductive division of labor and colony maintenance. In this review, we will discuss these differences along with the mechanisms that have evolved to ensure pheromone adaptivity in reproductive and non-reproductive context.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science