Relationship between body size, provisioning rate, longevity and reproductive success in females of the solitary beeOsmia cornuta

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Body size has often been related to reproductive success in bees and wasps. The objective of this 3-year study was to analyze the relationship between nesting female body size, provisioning rate and longevity and their effect on several traits related to parental investment and reproductive success in the solitary bee Osmia cornuta. Body size was not correlated to longevity, and it was only correlated to provisioning rate in the third year (with poor weather conditions during nesting). Variation in fecundity, offspring size and offspring mortality was not well explained by nesting female body size in any of the 3 years. However, in the third year, small females biased their investment toward males, the sex requiring smaller pollen-nectar provisions. Large females were more successful usurpers of other females' nests, but fecundity of usurpers was no higher than fecundity of nonusurpers. Large females were more likely to establish at the release site, probably in relation to size-dependent vigor at emergence. A review of the literature on parental investment in solitary aculeate Hymenoptera showed a stronger relationship between body size and reproductive success in wasps than in bees. In O. cornuta, fecundity was strongly related to longevity and provisioning rate in all 3 years. Offspring size was associated with provisioning rate in 1 year, when females with higher provisioning rates tended to produce larger sons and daughters. Both longevity and provisioning rate appeared to be strongly conditioned by stochastic events.

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