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Temporal variation in sex allocation in the mealybug Planococcus citri: adaptation, constraint, or both?

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Abstract

Sex ratio theory has been very successful in predicting under which circumstances parents should bias their investment towards a particular offspring sex. However, most examples of adaptive sex ratio bias come from species with well-defined mating systems and sex determining mechanisms, while in many other groups there is still an on-going debate about the adaptive nature of sex allocation. Here we study the sex allocation in the mealybug Planococcus citri, a species in which it is currently unclear how females adjust their sex ratio, even though experiments have shown support for facultative sex ratio adjustment. Previous work has shown that the sex ratio females produce changes over the oviposition period, with males being overproduced early and late in the laying sequence. Here we investigate this complex pattern further, examining both the robustness of the pattern and possible explanations for it. We first show that this sex allocation behaviour is indeed consistent across lines from three geographical regions. Second, we test whether females produce sons first in order to synchronize reproductive maturation of her offspring, although our data provide little evidence for this adaptive explanation. Finally we test the age at which females are able to mate successfully and show that females are able to mate and store sperm before adult eclosion. Whilst early-male production may still function in promoting protandry in mealybugs, we discuss whether mechanistic constraints limit how female allocate sex across their lifetime.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1496
Number of pages16
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

    Research areas

  • NASONIA-VITRIPENNIS, SCALE INSECTS, RATIO ADJUSTMENT, Sex allocation, Sex determination, LOCAL RESOURCE COMPETITION, PARASITOID WASP, MANIPULATION, CONFLICT, Mealybug, GENETIC SYSTEM, Paternal genome elimination, EVOLUTION, SELECTION

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