Sex allocation theories provide excellent opportunities to investigate not only the extent to which individuals' behaviour is adaptive, but also how they use relevant information for their decision-making. Here, we investigated whether female parasitoid wasps recognize the sex ratios of other females and adjust their laying sex ratios accordingly. Specifically, we tested the prediction of reciprocal cooperation over sex allocation. Theory predicts more female-biased (cooperative) sex ratios than in the interest of individual benefit, when a restricted number of ovipositing females interact for a long period and their offspring mate within the natal patch. This is because the female-biased sex ratio reduces competition for mates among the male offspring of the females and increases the overall reproductive productivity of the patch. In this case, females would be expected to respond to more even (noncooperative) sex ratios by others and to retaliate by also producing a less female-biased sex ratio to avoid exploitation by defectors. However, contrary to this prediction, our experiment using a sterile male technique showed that female Melittobia australica did not change their offspring sex ratios in response to the sex ratios produced by other females. This suggests that their extremely female-biased sex ratios cannot be explained by reciprocity. A meta-analysis of studies examining sex recognition ability in parasitoid wasps also did not support the predicted pattern of relevant sex ratio adjustment, suggesting that parasitoid females do not possess this ability. Here, we discuss the conditions necessary for the evolution of reciprocity linked to recognition ability.
ASJC Scopus subject areas