Current Opinion in Insect Science
Understanding the evolutionary origins of social behavior in insects requires understanding the physiological basis for reproductive plasticity. Solitary bees and wasps or those living in small, flexible societies will be key to understanding how conserved pathways have evolved to give rise to reproductive castes. Nutrient-sensing and endocrine pathways are decoupled from reproduction in some life stages of social insects. Heterochrony, particularly as it is related to diapause physiology, may be an important mechanism by which this decoupling occurs. Additional research is needed to understand how these pathways became sensitive to cues from the social environment. Future research targeting species with a diversity of social behaviors and diapause strategies will be key to understanding the physiological basis of social evolution.
Kapheim, Karen M., "Nutritional, endocrine, and social influences on reproductive physiology at the origins of social behavior" (2017). Biology Faculty Publications. Paper 1569.