Stable eusociality via maternal manipulation when resistance is costless
In many eusocial species, workers develop or maintain their non-reproductive condition following maternal influence through aggression, differential feeding, or pheromones. This observation has suggested that eusociality may evolve from maternal manipulation where the mother induces offspring to take worker roles against their inclusive fitness interests. If manipulation is executed via aggression or poor feeding, offspring resistance to manipulation could be costly enough to be disfavored, allowing eusociality via manipulation to be evolutionarily stable. However, if manipulation is executed via pheromones, resistance could be less costly, in principle leading to evolutionarily unstable eusociality. Here I show that maternal manipulation can generate evolutionarily stable eusociality even if resistance has no direct costs provided that maternally neglected offspring use help more efficiently than maternally provisioned offspring (e.g., to regain survival). Manipulation temporarily creates ineffectively resisting helpers that allow the mother to reduce maternal care toward helped offspring. If maternally neglected offspring use help more efficiently, maternal care reduction produces offspring that benefit more from the ineffectively resisting helpers. Thus, maternal care reduction increases the average benefit received by helped offspring, bringing Hamilton’s rule to satisfaction and eliminating selection for resistance. Manipulation can then generate stable eusociality under smaller benefit-cost ratios than when manipulation is absent although resistance is costless. These results predict that eusociality where ignoring maternal influence is rather costless is likely to have originated from maternal manipulation if (1) maternally neglected offspring are highly efficient help users and (2) maternally provisioned offspring can only moderately increase their survival by being helped.