Article: article from journal or magazin.
Adaptive plasticity of egg size in response to competition in the cowpea weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae)
Life history theory predicts that larger propagules should be produced when the offspring are expected to experience intense competition. This study tested whether female cowpea weevils responded to high larval or adult density by producing larger eggs. In a split-brood design I measured the effect of density experienced by females at their larval stage (1 vs. 4-6 larvae/cowpea) on the size of eggs produced just after emergence. The females were then kept either at low adult density (1 female+1 male per vial), or at high adult density (10 females+10 males) for 2 days, and tested for the effect of this adult density treatment on the size of eggs laid subsequently. I measured egg length and width, as well as the diameter of the entrance tunnel made by the larva, which can be regarded as a crude measure of larval size. Females that experienced high adult density subsequently laid slightly wider eggs than those kept at low density. This difference, albeit small (about 1-4% after correction for female weight and the effect of family, depending on the statistical model used), was statistically significant and robust to alterations of the statistical model. It may be a remnant of a larger plastic response of egg size to competition that has become eroded during many generations in high-density laboratory cultures. There was no difference in egg length or the diameter of the entrance tunnel. Eggs laid just after emergence by females reared at high larval density also tended to be wider than those produced by females that had no competitors. This effect was only marginally significant, however, and sensitive to the statistical model. Both egg length and width and the diameter of the entrance tunnel increased with female weight and decreased with female age. The tunnel diameter was positively correlated with both egg length and width, but the effect of width was larger.
Life history, Density, Propagule size, Seed beetles, Callosobruchus
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