Host plant-mediated variation in overwintering site quality: implications for the size and composition of populations of Acanthoscelides alboscutellatus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae)
This study provides an example of how variation in the quality of overwintering sites provided by the host plant of an insect seed predator can influence both the probability of overwintering survival and the size and composition of postwintering populations. Thus, the concept of host plant quality is extended to include variation in the suitability of the overwintering site of temperate region insects that overwinter within, or in habitats created by, their host plant. Adult Acanthoscelides alboscutellatus (Horn) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae) overwinter inside the fruit of Ludwigia alternifolia (L.) (Onagraceae). In early winter, however, fruits begin to dehisce, i.e., one or more of the fruit's four sides and/or top are shed. Variation in the onset and extent of dehiscence creates a range of overwintering habitats that vary in exposure to ambient conditions. In this study the frequency of possible overwintering sites in natural populations of L. alternifolia was determined by monitoring the phenology of fruit dehiscence from October through May in two populations for four years and for a third population for three years. Winter survivorship of adult A. alboscutellatus was assessed experimentally in eight environments representative of the conditions created by variation in dehiscence. These environments were produced by crossing four levels of exposure (degree of dehiscence) with two locations of the overwintering site, i.e., above or on the ground surface. The onset, phenology, and overall frequency of fruit dehiscence varied markedly among populations and years. Exposure, location, and their interaction had strong effects on survival and accounted for 80% of the observed variation in winter survival. Survivorship was higher on than above the ground, and in both locations decreased with increasing exposure. Thus, variation in fruit dehiscence among L. alternifolia populations will influence the size of postwintering A. alboscutellatus populations by dictating the quality of overwintering sites. Adult beetles that over-winter inside indehiscent fruit experience selection for small body size, associated with high mortality, when they attempt to exit the fruit at eclosion. As a consequence, the frequency of fruit dehiscence at eclosion coupled with the relative survival rates of adults within indehiscent fruit will determine the body size composition of postwintering populations and hence the response to selection for small body size in this species.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 4 - agronomie. sciences du sol et productions vegetales
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics