A Test of the Incongruence Hypothesis Using Altered Dominance Displays in the European p y p Paper Wasp Polistes Dominulus
Hennigar, Dustin J.
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Communication signals, in general, fall into one of two categories: flashy, expensive signals that can only be achieved with the proper allocation of resources, and more subtle signs that give only the information required. How the cheaper signals are maintained is unclear but the Incongruence Hypothesis (IH) proposes that it is the significant social cost of cheating that maintains the honesty of inexpensive quality signals. P. Dominulus or European Paper wasp are an ideal subject for testing the IH because their behavior and dominance signals have been shown to be modified reliably and independently. The wasps were treated with one of four treatments: a sham, a hormone treatment to modify their behavior, a paint treatment to modify their dominance signal, or paint and hormone treatments to modify both behavior and signaling. Dominance trials were run and the aggressive behaviors were observed and recorded. No significant increase in aggressive behavior was found between wasps in treatments designed to create inconsistency. The IH was not supported by the results of this test set, however research is ongoing.