Researches on Population Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 195-209

First online:

Maternal age as a source of variation in the ability of an aphid to produce dispersing forms

  • A. MacKayAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Windsor
  • , W. G. WellingtonAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Science and Institute of Animal Resource Ecology, the University of British Columbia

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Apterous parthenogentic females of the pea aphid,Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris), begin to produce alate offspring soon after they have been subjected to crowding.

Females which were born early in their own parent's reproductive period respond most strongly to crowding, producing much larger numbers of alatae than their late-born sisters.

In contrast, the early-born daughters of most alate females do not produce winged offspring after being crowded. Some of their later-born sisters may produce a few winged individuals, resembling in this respect the late-born daughters of the apterous females.

Control of the production of alatae thus begins in the grandparental generation. Risk-spreading by means of differential dispersal becomes a less uncertain venture when local populations can modify their responses to environmental changes by utilizing past as well as present signals from their surroundings.