Intraspecific Variation in the Egg-Spacing Behavior of Callosobruchus maculatus

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Journal of Insect Behavior



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Females of Callosobruchus maculatustend to distribute their eggs uniformly among host seeds and, thereby, reduce competition among larvae within seeds. We investigated variability in this behavior by assaying beetles from seven geographic strains on each of three host species. To quantify egg-spacing behavior,we devised an index (U)that estimates the uniformity of the egg distribution but is independent of the number of eggs laid. Egg-spacing behavior was highly variable among beetle strains and legume hosts. Females from an Indian strain frequently achieved the most uniform distribution possible (maximum hyperdispersion), whereas females from two Brazilian strains frequently deposited eggs randomly. Differences among strains were evident throughout the period of oviposition;some strains were “sloppy” when even egg densities were low. Variation in egg-spacing behavior appears to be influenced by prior host associations and by host size. The most well-developed spacing behavior was observed in a strain associated with the smallest host, which supports only one or two larvae per seed. Realized fecundity also varied significantly among beetle strains. We found no evidence, however, of a predicted tradeoff between the number of eggs laid and the uniformity of the egg dispersion.

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