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Eusociality and Division of Labor
Eusociality and Division of Labor

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lab, students should know...

What is eusociality?

Eusociality is an advanced form of social organization in which labor is divided among castes. Here, young are raised communally, overlapping generations are observed, and the division of labor often results in reproducing and non-reproducing castes.

What is altruism?

Altruism is a type of behavior when one individual, despite survival or reproductive costs, chooses to help another individual.

When is altruism advantageous?

Altruism is advantageous when a pair’s relatedness and the benefit to the recipient is greater than the cost to the altruist. This is defined by the equation r (relatedness) × B (benefit to the recipient) > C (cost to the altruist)

Briefly describe two hypotheses for the evolution of eusociality.

The first is the haplo-diploidy hypothesis, which is seen in bees and ants. The second is the ecological hypothesis, which suggests that group protection from predators, cross-group competition, and a common nest site can lead to eusociality.

What percentage of genes are shared among sisters in a haplo-diploid species? In a diploid species?

In a haplo-diploid species, 75% of genes are shared among sisters. In a diploid species, 50% are shared.

List of Materials

  • 1-gallon bucket
  • Rice (5 lbs. (2.3 kg)/bucket)
    20 lbs
  • Dry black beans (~1/4 - 1/2 C)
    ~1/4 - 1/2 C
  • Dry Black-eyed peas (~1/4 - 1/2 C)
    ~1/4 - 1/2 C
  • Dry lentils (~1/4 - 1/2 C)
    ~1/4 - 1/2 C
  • Dry garbanzo beans (~1/4 - 1/2 C)
    ~1/4 - 1/2 C
  • Red plastic cups (10/student)
  • Blue plastic cups (10/student)
  • Plastic bowls (1/student)
  • Permanent markers (1/station)
    1 /station
  • Marker tape (1/station)
    1 /station
  • Stopwatch
    1 /station

Lab Prep

  1. Simulating Eusocial and Solitary Behavior
    • Choose an open location for the activity to take place, with the center area clear of any items that students may trip over.
    • Set out four 1-gallon buckets and add 5 pounds of rice to each one.
    • Next, add ¼ - ½ cup of dried black beans to the first bucket and mix the beans into the rice.
    • Then, add the same amount of dried pinto beans to the second bucket and mix them in.
    • Then add the same amount again of dried lentils to the third bucket and mix them in.
    • Finally, mix ½ to 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans into the fourth bucket.
    • Now, place the buckets next to each other in a row on one side of the room.
    • On the other side of the room, place one bowl and 10 cups of a single color next to each other per solitary student, alternating the cup color between each student, so that each student with blue cups will have neighbors with red cups, and vice versa.
    • For the eusocial group, place a bowl, 15 blue cups, and 15 red cups next to each other.
    • When all of the materials are in place, intersperse permanent markers among the materials for the students to use to label their offspring cups.


JoVE Lab Lab: 32 Prep

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