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Beobachtungen Über Das Interindividuelle Verhalten Bei Polistes Gallicus

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The social hierarchy of the wasp Polistes gallicus (L.) is described. Special attention is drawn to the behaviour patterns, on which the hierarchy is based, and to the reciprocal relations of the individuals of the same nest. An account is given of the form of the hierarchy and its variations. The dominance-system regulates the distribution of the liquid foods regurgitated from the social stomach. The regurgitated liquid foods may be of either external source or social source (larval secretions obtained during trophallaxis). The exploitation of the dominated individuals (generally the younger ones) by the dominant ones can be considered as a continuation of the exploitation of the larvae by the imagines during trophallaxis. The resemblance of the behaviour patterns in trophallaxis and in dominance-relations among adult wasps is discussed. In the contacts among individuals belonging to different nests, the dominant individual is generally the one which has higher social status in its own nest. The different nests undoubtedly have a specific nest-smell. During the polygynic association however when the inhabitants of the nest are few, the difference in nest-smell is insufficient to prevent associations among individuals belonging to different nests. The association of two individuals may happen when the two are not perfectly equivalent in regard to their dominance behaviour. When the two are equivalent furious fighting results. The author suggests various possible mechanisms to which the recognition of the reciprocal social status may be due.

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