, Volume 93, Issue 2, pp 263-267

Testing hypotheses of adaptive variation in cricket ovipositor lengths

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We experimentally tested a series of hypotheses proposed by Masaki (1979, 1986) for the evolution of ovipositor length in crickets. Female crickets use the ovipositor to bury eggs in the soil, where it was hypothesized to protect their eggs from desiccation, cold and other disturbance. However, we found no effect of depth on the overwinter survival of eggs of three species of Nemobiinae. The probability of hatchlings reaching the soil surface was negatively correlated with depth documenting a significant cost to females laying eggs deep in the soil. Hatchling survival may be an important agent of selection on ovipositor length in habitats of different soil moistures. Hatchling survival in the soil was also correlated with body size, which may impose a constraint on egg-size fecundity trade-offs. Females of a bivoltine population of Allonemobius socius lay eggs at shallower depths when reared under summer compared to fall conditions and, therefore, may be able to respond to selection through behavioral plasticity when morphological adaptation is constrained by allometry.