Ecological Entomology (2009) 34, 562-568
Tanya M. Latty, Michael J.L. Magrath and Matthew R.E. Symonds (2009)
Harem size and oviposition behaviour in a polygynous bark beetle
Ecological Entomology 34 (5), 562-568
Abstract: 1. Harem polygyny can have fitness benefits and costs on females. In bark beetles of the genus Ips the latter may include within-harem competition between larvae. However, earlier competition between females for male care and mating opportunities may also influence oviposition behaviour. There has been relatively little investigation into the relationship between harem size and initial egg output. The present study investigated this relationship in the bark beetle Ips grandicollis.
2. The measure of egg output used was the number of eggs in the gallery with the most eggs in each harem. Mean (±SE) harem size of 242 observed harems was 3.25 ± 0.10. A curvilinear relationship was found between egg output and harem size, with females in smaller harems (one to four females) laying more eggs with increased harem size. However, females in larger harems (five to seven females) laid fewer eggs as harem size increased. The optimal harem size (in terms of number of eggs laid) was close to four females.
3. We found no evidence from a behavioural assay that females could preferentially choose unmated males over mated males with harems of two females. Additionally, the distribution of harem sizes suggests that females distribute themselves among males randomly.
4. The results suggest that harem size has effects on female reproduction that extend beyond larval competition and influence patterns of oviposition. The mechanism that determines why egg laying is greatest at intermediate levels is unknown. There is no evidence that smaller harems belong to lower quality males, but females may adjust egg-laying behaviour in large harems as a result of reduced male attendance or anticipated larval competition.
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Database assignments for author(s): Tanya M. Latty
Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution
Pest and/or beneficial records: