A morphological and life history comparison between desert populations of a sit-and-pursue antlion, in reference to a co-occurring pit-building antlion
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- Scharf, I., Filin, I., Subach, A. et al. Naturwissenschaften (2009) 96: 1147. doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0576-z
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Although most antlion species do not construct pits, the vast majority of studies on antlions focused on pit-building species. We report here on a transplant experiment aiming to test for morphological and life history differences between two desert populations of a sit-and-pursue antlion species, Lopezus fedtschenkoi (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae), originating from habitats, which mainly differ in plant cover and productivity. We raised the antlion larvae in environmental chambers simulating either hyper-arid or Mediterranean climate. We found significant differences in the morphology and life history of L. fedtschenkoi larvae between the two populations. For example, the larvae originating from the more productive habitat pupated faster and had a higher growth rate. In agreement with the temperature–size rule, antlions reached higher final mass in the colder Mediterranean climate and exhibited a higher growth rate, but there was no difference in their developmental time. Observed differences in morphology between populations as well as those triggered by climate growing conditions could be explained by differences in size allometry. We also provide a quantitative description of the allometric growth axis, based on 12 morphological traits. Comparing the responses of L. fedtschenkoi with those observed in a co-occurring pit-building antlion indicated that there were neither shape differences that are independent of size nor was there a difference in the plasticity level between the two species.