, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 61-74

Subsociality and female reproductive success in a mycophagous thrips: An observational and experimental analysis

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Oviparous females of the haplodiploid, facultatively viviparous thrips Elaphrothrips tuberculatus(Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) guard their eggs against female conspecifics and other egg predators. The intensity of maternal defense increases with clutch size. Field and laboratory observations indicate that cannibalism by females is an important selective pressure favoring maternal care. Experimental removals of guarding females showed that egg guarding substantially increases egg survivorship and that the survivorship of undefended eggs is higher in the absence of nonguarding female conspecifics than in their presence. The fecundity of viviparous females increases with the number of eggs cannibalized. The reproductive success of oviparous females increases with body size and local food density and decreases with local density of breeding females. Social behavior may not have advanced beyond maternal care in Elaphrothrips tuberculatusbecause, relative to Hymenoptera, capabilities for helping relatives are few or nonexistent, and the causes of variation in female reproductive success are not influenced easily by cooperation among females.