The extraordinarily long lifespans of queens (and kings) in eusocial insects and the strikingly large differences in life expectancy between workers and queens challenge our understanding of the evolution of aging and provide unique opportunities for studying the causes underlying adaptive variation in lifespan within species. Here we review the major evolutionary theories of aging, focusing on their scope and limitations when applied to social insects. We show that reproductive division of labor, interactions between kin, caste specific gene regulation networks, and the integration of colony-level trade-offs with individual-level trade-offs provide challenges to the classical theories We briefly indicate how these challenges could be met in future models of adaptive phenotypic plasticity in lifespan between and within different castes.
- KIN SELECTION
- COLONY SIZE