Life Span Evolution in Eusocial Workers—A Theoretical Approach to Understanding the Effects of Extrinsic Mortality in a Hierarchical System
Resources for somatic maintenance of the colony can either be invested into quality or quantity of workers. First, any investment that would generate a longer intrinsic life span for workers is lost if the individual dies from external causes while foraging. As a consequence, risky environments favor the evolution of workers with a shorter life span. Second, shorter-lived workers require less investment than long-lived ones, allowing the colony to allocate these resources to sexual reproduction or colony growth.