Researches on Population Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 45–55

Sibling cannibalism in the ladybird beetleHarmonia axyridis: Fitness consequences for mother and offspring

  • Naoya Osawa


The adaptive significance of sibling cannibalism was analyzed in the ladybird beetleHarmonia axyridis at two prey densities. Possible costs and benefits were considered from three points of view: the mother, the cannibal and the victim. Cannibals ate both infertile and fertile eggs, thereby increasing in body length and survival rate with the intensity of sibling cannibalism. The cannibalistic trait was clearly beneficial to the cannibal when aphid density was low. However, it was not always beneficial when aphid density was high and the victims were full siblings. The altruistic behavior of being a victim was beneficial only when the victim was cannibalized by full siblings at low aphid density. The mother attained almost equal fitness at low aphid density, regardless of the intensity of sibling cannibalism. This suggests that sibling cannibalism is not maladaptive for the mother. At high aphid density, however, mother’s fitness decreased with the intensity of sibling cannibalism, indicating that sibling cannibalism is maladaptive for the mother when larval food availability is high.


sibling cannibalism kin selection fitness ladybird beetle Harmonia axyridis 


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Copyright information

© Society of Population Ecology 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naoya Osawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Entomology, Faculty of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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