Asymmetric life-history decision-making in butterfly larvae
2011 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 165, no 2, 301-310 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In temperate environments, insects appearing in several generations in the growth season typically have to decide during the larval period whether to develop into adulthood, or to postpone adult emergence until next season by entering a species-specific diapause stage. This decision is typically guided by environmental cues experienced during development. An early decision makes it possible to adjust growth rate, which would allow the growing larva to respond to time stress involved in direct development, whereas a last-minute decision would instead allow the larva to use up-to-date information about which developmental pathway is the most favourable under the current circumstances. We study the timing of the larval pathway decision-making between entering pupal winter diapause and direct development in three distantly related butterflies (Pieris napi, Araschnia levana and Pararge aegeria). We pinpoint the timing of the larval diapause decision by transferring larvae from first to last instars from long daylength (inducing direct development) to short daylength conditions (inducing diapause), and vice versa. Results show that the pathway decision is typically made in the late instars in all three species, and that the ability to switch developmental pathway late in juvenile life is conditional; larvae more freely switched from diapause to direct development than in the opposite direction. We contend that this asymmetry is influenced by the additional physiological preparations needed to survive the long and cold winter period, and that the reluctance to make a late decision to enter diapause has the potential to be a general trait among temperate insects.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 165, no 2, 301-310 p.
Diapause/direct development, Seasonal polyphenism, Phenotypic plasticity, Lepidoptera, Developmental constraints
Research subject Systematic Zoology; Animal Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43771DOI: 10.1007/s00442-010-1804-0ISI: 000286224900005PubMedID: 20953962OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-43771DiVA: diva2:359357
FunderSwedish Research Council