A review of the ecological parameters and implications of subsociality in Parastrachia japonensis (Hemiptera: Cydnidae), a semelparous species that specializes on a poor resource
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Subsocial behavior or postovipositional parental care in insects has evolved in response to a variety of environmental stresses and ranges from briefly guarding eggs after oviposition to elaborate nidification and provisioning behaviors. Investment in parental care bears various costs, and should not continue beyond the point at which the costs to future reproductive success exceed the benefits to current reproductive effort. Progressive provisioning is a rare form of subsociality in insects. Females of the subsocial shield bug Parastrachia japonensis progressively provision their nymph-containing nests with drupes of the single resource, Schoepfia jasminodora, and this provisioning drastically enhances offspring survival. A female rears only one brood throughout her lifetime and continues provisioning the brood until about the third larval stadium, when the female dies. Thus, the female's entire reproductive effort is expressed in the success of that one brood, which suggests a reproductive strategy with enormous costs and risks. Why has such an extreme life history evolved in this species? Here, to answer that question and to contribute to our understanding of the evolutionary implications of subsocial behavior, in particular, progressive provisioning, we review what we have discovered about the ecological parameters of subsociality in this species during a long-term field study. We also discuss these parameters in P. japonensis in reference to other subsocial insects and related species and conclude with a suggestion that semelparity and progressive provisioning in this species are extreme adaptations to evolving complete dependency on an unreliable resource.
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