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An evolutionarily stable strategy model for the evolution of dimorphic development in the butterfly Maculinea rebeli, a social parasite of Myrmica ant colonies

Hovestadt, Thomas; Mitesser, Oliver; Elmes, Graham W.; Thomas, Jeremy A.; Hochberg, Michael E.. 2007 An evolutionarily stable strategy model for the evolution of dimorphic development in the butterfly Maculinea rebeli, a social parasite of Myrmica ant colonies. American Naturalist, 169 (4). 466-480. 10.1086/512134

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Abstract/Summary

Caterpillars of the butterfly Maculinea rebeli develop as parasites inside ant colonies. In intensively studied French populations, about 25% of caterpillars mature within 1 year (fast-developing larvae [FDL]) and the others after 2 years (slow-developing larvae [SDL]); all available evidence indicates that this ratio is under the control of egg-laying females. We present an analytical model to predict the evolutionarily stable fraction of FDL (pESS). The model accounts for added winter mortality of SDL, general and kin competition among caterpillars, a competitive advantage of SDL over newly entering FDL (priority effect), and the avoidance of renewed infection of ant nests by butterflies in the coming season (segregation). We come to the following conclusions: (1) all factors listed above can promote the evolution of delayed development; (2) kin competition and segregation stabilize pESS near 0.5; and (3) a priority effect is the only mechanism potentially selecting for pESS < 0.5. However, given the empirical data, pESS is predicted to fall closer to 0.5 than to the 0.25 that has been observed. In this particular system, bet hedging cannot explain why more than 50% of larvae postpone growth. Presumably, other fitness benefits for SDL, for example, higher fertility or longevity, also contribute to the evolution of delayed development. The model presented here may be of general applicability for systems where maturing individuals compete in small subgroups.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1086/512134
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: _ Population & Conservation Ecology
ISSN: 0003-0147
Additional Keywords: delayed development, growth dimorphism, evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS), ant-butterfly interaction, social parasitism
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 24 Jan 2008 16:13
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/2178

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