Pre-ovipositional maternal care alleviates food stress of offspring in the flower beetle Dicronocephalus wallichii
Unlike most other flower beetles, females of Dicronocephalus wallichii exhibit nesting behaviour. The female constructs a burrow in the soil, cuts dead plant leaves into small pieces to provision the nest, and then lays one egg inside the nest. Hatched larvae have been thought to feed on the nest materials prepared by their mothers, but the effects of pre-ovipositional care on larval performance have not been tested. The hatched larvae were found to stay in the nest for 15–30 days until they consumed the nest materials. We examined whether the presence of provisioned nests enhanced larval performance under both benign and food-stress conditions. With high-nutrient soil, larval survival rate and growth speed were not affected by the presence of provisioned nests. By contrast, with low-nutrient soil, mortality of the larvae was much higher in the absence than in the presence of provisioned nests. The growth speed of larvae with nests located in low-nutrient soil was as high as those reared in high-nutrient soil. These results indicate that females alleviate the food stress of larvae during their initial developmental stage by constructing provisioned nests.
KeywordsFlower chafer Nest provisioning Offspring performance Saprophagous insect Scarab beetle Scarabaeidae
We are very grateful to Dr G. Machado and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript.
This study was supported by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research Abroad to Wataru Kojima and research grants of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST, 103-2311-B-029-001-MY3 and 104-2621-B-003-002-MY3) to Chung-Ping Lin.
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