Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 483–492 | Cite as

Climatic variation across a latitudinal gradient affect phenology and group size, but not social complexity in small carpenter bees

  • S. P. Lawson
  • W. A. Shell
  • S. S. Lombard
  • S. M. RehanEmail author
Research Article


Greater social complexity at lower latitudes has been observed in a variety of arthropods from termites to spiders. Social behavior in the small carpenter bees, Ceratina, has been shown to vary widely both between species and across geographic range. Our goal was to determine how social plasticity of three populations of Ceratina species, C. calcarata and C. strenua, vary across a latitudinal gradient. The longer rearing season in the south did not result in two separate brood rearing periods, but instead increased brood production of a single brood with a higher female sex bias. The social structure of nests remained stable across both species’ ranges: mothers exhibit prolonged parental care and worker dwarf eldest daughters occur among populations and species. This is the first report of worker daughters in C. strenua. The ubiquity of worker daughter production in eastern North American Ceratina suggests that factors outside of climate underlie the early division of labor between the reproductive mother and worker dwarf eldest daughter.


Social evolution Maternal investment Developmental plasticity Geographic distribution Ceratina 



We thank Cullen Franchino and Michael Mikát for assistance with nest collections in New Hampshire and Terry and Jackie Guilinger for help with nest collections in Missouri. This work was supported by National Science Foundation award numbers 1456296 to SMR, 1450271 to WAS, and 1523664 to SPL. This research was also supported by a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research at University of New Hampshire to SSL. In addition, this work was made possible through funds from the University of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Tuttle Foundation to SMR.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

40_2018_635_MOESM1_ESM.docx (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 31 KB)


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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