We examined the possible role of hybridization in the invasion process of the African honeybee by testing two hypotheses regarding fluctuating asymmetry (FA), a measure of developmental stability, in wing characteristics: (1) FA should be higher in hybrid versus parental genotypes of African and European races; (2) FA should be lower in African bees compared to hybrid and European workers. Parental and reciprocal hybrid worker genotypes were cross fostered in common-hive rearing environments. We did not find greater FA for wing size and shape in the hybrids compared to both parental types. However, we did find significantly lower FA of shape in the African workers compared to the European and hybrid workers, suggesting that European bees and their hybrids may have compromised fitness relative to African bees. We also found that the two hybrid genotypes significantly differed in overall wing size and shape. If these differences affect wing aerodynamics, then the paternity of hybrids may influence worker performance and could potentially contribute to the loss of European matrilines. Hybridization had few consistent effects on directional asymmetry for wing size and shape. Genotypic factors played a far greater role in determining the effect of hybridization on wing morphology than did differences in rearing environment. Thus, African bees may have lower FA for wing shape (and by inference greater developmental stability) relative to European and hybrid workers, which may contribute to the ability of African bees to displace European honeybee races in invaded regions.
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Vol. 57 • No. 10