Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 181–187 | Cite as

Do Female Red Flour Beetles Assess both Current and Future Competition during Oviposition?

  • William D. HallidayEmail author
  • Isabelle Slevan-Tremblay
  • Gabriel Blouin-Demers


Female insects must assess multiple factors when laying eggs, including both abiotic and biotic conditions of the laying site. Competition may also play a crucial role in the oviposition decisions of females. Competition at oviposition sites may take two forms: current competition between adults for both food and access to sites for oviposition, and future competition between offspring that will hatch and develop at that site. Here, we test whether female red flour beetles (Tribolium castaneum) assess both current and future competition at oviposition sites with a laboratory experiment where we manipulated both the density (current competition) and sex ratio (future competition) of adults at potential oviposition sites. We counted the number of eggs laid in each site to assess oviposition decisions, and then let those eggs develop into adults to determine the fitness consequences of oviposition decisions (measured by the total number of adult offspring produced). Female red flour beetles responded to both density and sex ratio: per capita eggs laid decreased as density increased, but was higher when the sex ratio was male-biased. These oviposition decisions were reflected in the per capita number of adult offspring produced. We provide evidence that female red flour beetles do assess for both current and future competition in their oviposition decisions.


Fecundity fitness oviposition trade-off Tribolium castaneum 



We are grateful for financial support from the University of Ottawa, and from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in the form of a post-graduate scholarship to WDH and a Discovery Grant to GBD.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Wildlife Conservation Society CanadaWhitehorseCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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