Permanent Fellow

Raghavendra Gadagkar, Ph.D., Permanent Fellow

Professor der Ökologie

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

Geboren 1953 in Kanpur, Indien
Studium der Zoologie und Molekularbiologie in Bangalore


Interrogating an Insect Society

Insect societies, such as those of ants, bees, and wasps, consist of one or a small number of fertile queens and a large number of sterile or nearly sterile workers. While the queens engage in laying eggs, workers perform all other tasks, such as nest building, acquisition and processing of food, and brood care. How do such societies function in a coordinated and efficient manner? What rules do individu-als follow? How are these rules made and enforced? These questions are of obvious interest to us as fellow social animals, but how do we interrogate an insect society and seek answers to these questions? During the next few years, I plan to write a book-length monograph describing some 35 years of my research, which was designed to seek answers from an insect society to a series of such questions of obvious interest to us. I have chosen the Indian paper wasp Ropalidia marginata for this purpose, a species that is abundantly distributed in peninsular India and serves as an excellent model system. An important feature of this species is that queens and workers are morphologically identical and physiologically nearly so. How then does an individual become a queen? How does the queen suppress worker reproduction? How does the queen regulate the non-reproductive activities of the workers? What is the function of the aggression shown by different individuals? How and when is the queen's heir decided? I will attempt to show how such questions can indeed be investigated and answered. I will emphasize that to do so we will need a whole range of techniques of observation, experimentation, and inference.

Recommended Reading

Gadagkar, Raghavendra (2016). "Evolution of social behaviour in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata: do we need to look beyond kin selection?" Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 371: 20150094.
- (2015). "The family system of a social wasp." In The family emotional system - an integrative concept for theory, science and practice, edited by R. J. Noone and D. V. Papero, 161-183. Boulder: Lexington Books.
- (2009). "Interrogating an insect society." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 106: 10407-10414.
- (2001). The social biology of Ropalidia marginata: toward understanding the evolution of eusociality. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
- (1997). Survival strategies: cooperation and conflict in animal societies. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Publikationen aus der Fellowbibliothek

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2018)
Emergence of cooperation and division of labor in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2018)
Current indirect fitness and future direct fitness are not incompatible

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2017)
The evolution of culture (or the lack thereof) : mapping the conceptual space

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2016)
Evolution of social behaviour in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata : do we need to look beyond kin selection?

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2014)
Book review : Randomness in evolution

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2014)
The Dufour’s gland and the cuticle in the social wasp Ropalidia marginata contain the same hydrocarbons in similar proportions

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2014)
Nestmate discrimination in the social wasp Ropalidia marginata : chemical cues and chemosensory mechanism

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2013)
Virgin wasps develop ovaries on par with mated females, but lay fewer eggs

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2013)
Ovarian developmental variation in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata suggests a gateway to worker ontogeny and the evolution of sociality

Gadagkar, Raghavendra ( 2013)
The evolution of complexity in social organization : a model using dominance-subordinate behavior in two social wasp species


On Hamlet and Succession



Can We Understand an Insect Society, and Why Should We Care?