Chapter

Communication between hosts and social parasites

Davod R. Nash and Jacobus J. Boomsma

in Sociobiology of Communication

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199216840
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191712043 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216840.003.0004
 Communication between hosts and social parasites

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All parasites need to evade host defences to be successful. Social parasites, however, face unique challenges and opportunities. Their hosts are particularly well defended against intruders, but their social communication systems provide an alternative means of exploitation, if social parasites can evolve ways to subvert this system for their own ends. This chapter briefly reviews the range of tactics used by social parasites to exploit their hosts, and the communication channels and strategies used. Detailed analysis is presented of a few key systems that have been particularly well studied (Maculinea butterflies, Microdon flies, and slave-making and inquiline ants). The chapter examines general patterns of how social parasites use communication with their hosts to enhance their success, and the consequences that this has for the coevolutionary interaction between social parasites and their hosts.

Keywords: social parasite; insignificance; camouflage; mimicry; appeasement; propaganda; Maculinea; Microdon

Chapter.  16365 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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