Skip to main content
Log in

Intraspecific brood parasitism as a conditional reproductive tactic in the treehopper Publilia concava

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

In species exhibiting egg guarding as well as communal egg laying, females may adopt the strategy of laying eggs in the nests of conspecifics and leaving without providing care (termed intraspecific brood parasitism). This study is the first to describe such a behavior in the insect Publilia concava (Hemiptera: Membracidae) through field studies that followed 849 marked females across 1,828 brood associations. While brood parasitism increased the total number of eggs in a host brood, it did not reduce the overall hatching success of host broods. Solitary females exhibited a range of guarding durations while parasitic females rarely remained to guard eggs. Females exhibiting the parasitic tactic increased their lifetime number of clutches without decreasing the number of solitary clutches that they were able to initiate. Estimates of egg number for these individual broods revealed that females adopting the parasitic tactic (in addition to solitary breeding) had higher lifetime fecundity relative to females that did not parasitize. In females that exhibited both tactics (solitary and parasitic), the parasitic tactic yielded a higher rate of oviposition. The major component of oviposition rate was the time to find hosts and this time decreased with increasing host availability across 222 replicate groups. Females exhibited a shift toward the parasitic tactic when host broods were more abundant (i.e. in larger groups and later in the season). However, the time to find hosts increased as the frequency of the parasitic tactic increased, suggesting that this tactic may be maintained through negative frequency dependence. The results of this study suggest that brood parasitism may be the preferred tactic, as part of a conditional strategy, when hosts are readily available with solitary breeding being the preferred tactic when hosts are in short supply.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 5.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Åhlund M, Andersson M (2002) Female ducks can double their reproduction. Nature 414:600–601

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alcock J (1982) Nest usurpation and sequential occupation in the digger wasp Crabro monticola (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). Can J Zool 60:921–925

    Google Scholar 

  • Andersson M (1984) Brood parasitism within species. In: Barnard CJ (ed) Producers and scroungers: strategies of exploitation and parasitism. Croom Helm, London, pp 195–228

  • Andersson M (2001) Relatedness and the evolution of conspecific brood parasitism. Am Nat 158:599–614

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bristow CM (1983) Treehoppers transfer parental care to ants: a new benefit of mutualism. Science 220:532–533

    Google Scholar 

  • Brockmann HJ (1993) Parasitizing conspecifics: comparisons between Hymenoptera and birds. Trends Ecol Evol 8:2–4

    Google Scholar 

  • Brockmann HJ (2001) The evolution of alternative strategies and tactics. Adv Stud Behav 30:1–51

    Google Scholar 

  • Brockmann HJ, Grafen A, Dawkins R (1979) Evolutionarily stable nesting strategy in a digger wasp. J Theor Biol 77:473–496

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brown CR (1984) Laying eggs in a neighbor's nest: benefit and cost of colonial nesting in swallows. Science 224:518–519

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown CR, Brown MB (1989) Behavioral dynamics of intraspecific brood parasitism in colonial cliff swallows. Anim Behav 37:777–796

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown CR, Brown MB (1991) Selection of high-quality host nest by parasitic cliff swallows. Anim Behav 41:457–466

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown CR, Brown MB (1997) Fitness components associated with alternative reproductive tactics in cliff swallows. Behav Ecol 9:158–171

    Google Scholar 

  • Bulmer MG (1984) Risk avoidance and nesting strategies. J Theor Biol 106:529–535

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark CW, Mangel M (2001) Dynamic state variable models in ecology: methods and applications. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Cocroft RB (1996) Insect vibrational defense signals. Nature 382:679–680

    Google Scholar 

  • Cocroft RB (1999) Parent-offspring communication inn response to predators in a subsocial treehopper (Hemiptera: Membracidae: Umbonia crassicornus). Ethology 105:553–568

    Google Scholar 

  • Cocroft RB (2002) Antipredator defense as a limiting resource: unequal predation risk in broods of an insect with maternal care. Behav Ecol 13:125–133

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eadie JM, Fryxell JM (1992) Density dependence, frequency dependence, and alternative nesting strategies in goldeneyes. Am Nat 140:621–641

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eadie JM, Kehoe FP, Nudds TD (1988) Pre-hatch and post-hatch brood amalgamation in North American Anatidae: a review of hypotheses. Can J Zool 66:1709–1721

    Google Scholar 

  • Eberhard WG (1986) Possible mutualism between females of the subsocial membracid Polyglypta dispar (Homoptera). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19:447–453

    Google Scholar 

  • Eickwort GC (1975) Gregarious nesting of the mason bee Hoplitis anthocopoides and the evolution of parasitism and sociality among megachilid bees. Evolution 29:142–150

    Google Scholar 

  • Field J (1989a) Intraspecific parasitism and nesting success in the solitary wasp Ammophila sabulosa. Behaviour 110:23–46

    Google Scholar 

  • Field J (1989b) Alternative nesting tactics in a solitary wasp. Behaviour 110:219–243

    Google Scholar 

  • Field J (1992a) Intraspecific parasitism as an alternative reproductive tactic in nest-building wasps and bees. Biol Rev 67:79–126

    Google Scholar 

  • Field J (1992b) Intraspecific parasitism and nest defense in the solitary pompilid wasp Anoplius viaticus (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae). J Zool Soc (Lond) 228:341–350

    Google Scholar 

  • Gross MR (1996) Alternative reproductive strategies and tactics: diversity within sexes. Trends Ecol Evol 11:92–98

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hauber ME (2001) Site selection and repeatability in Brown-Headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) parasitism of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) nests. Can J Zool 79:1518–1523

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kurczewski FE, Spofford MG (1998) Alternative nesting strategies in Ammophila urnaria (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). J Nat Hist 32:99–106

    Google Scholar 

  • Loeb MLG (2003) Evolution of egg dumping in a subsocial insect. Am Nat 161:129–142

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Loeb MLG, Diener LM, Phennig DW (2000) Egg-dumping lace bugs preferentially oviposit with kin. Anim Behav 59:379–383

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • López-Sepulcre A, Kokko H (2002) The role of kin recognition in the evolution of conspecific brood parasitism. Anim Behav 64:215–222

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lyon BE (1993) Conspecific brood parasitism as a flexible female reproductive tactic in American coots. Anim Behav 46:911–928

    Google Scholar 

  • Lyon BE (1999) Optimal clutch size and conspecific brood parasitism. Nature 392:380–383

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lyon BE, Eadie JM (2000) Family matters: kin selection and the evolution of conspecific brood parasitism. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:12942–12944

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McEvoy PB (1977) Adaptive significance of clumped dispersion in a treehopper, Publilia concava (Homoptera: Membracidae). Cornell University, PhD dissertation, Ithaca, N.Y.

  • McEvoy PB (1979) Advantages and disadvantages to group living in treehoppers (Homoptera: Membracidae). Misc Publ Entomol Soc Am 11:1–13

    Google Scholar 

  • Morales MA (2000) Mechanisms and density dependence of benefit in an ant-membracid mutualism. Ecology 81:482–489

    Google Scholar 

  • Müller JK, Eggert A-K, Dressel J (1990) Intraspecific brood parasitism in the burying beetle, Necrophorus vespilloides (Coleoptera: Silphidae). Anim Behav 40:491–499

    Google Scholar 

  • Nee S, May RM (1993) Population-level consequences of conspecific brood parasitism in birds and insects. J Theor Biol 161:95–109

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Olmstead KL, Wood TK (1990) The effect of clutch size and ant attendance on egg guarding by Entylia bactriana (Homoptera: Membracidae). Psyche 97:111–119

    Google Scholar 

  • Parker GA (1984) Evolutionarily stable strategies. In Krebs JR, Davies NB (ed) Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach, 2nd edn. Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp 30–61

  • Payne RB (1977) The ecology of brood parasitism in birds. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 8:1–28

    Google Scholar 

  • Pöysä H (1999) Conspecific nest parasitism is associated with inequality in nest predation risk in the common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). Behav Ecol 10:533–540

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Price PW, Carr TG (2000) Comparative ecology of membracids and tenthredinids in a macroevolutionary context. Evol Ecol Res 2:645–665

    Google Scholar 

  • Repka J, Gross MR (1995) The evolutionarily stable strategy under individual condition and tactic frequency. J Theor Biol 176:27–31

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rohwer FC, Freeman S (1989) The distribution of conspecific nest parasitism in birds. Can J Zool 67:239–253

    Google Scholar 

  • Ruxton GD (1999) Are attentive mothers preferentially parasitized? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 46:71–72

    Google Scholar 

  • Semel B, Sherman PW (2001) Intraspecific parasitism and nest-site competition in wood ducks. Anim Behav 61:787–803

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sorenson MD (1992) Comment: why is conspecific nest parasitism more frequent in waterfowl than other birds? Can J Zool 70:1856–1858

    Google Scholar 

  • Tallamy DW (1985) "Egg dumping" in lace bugs (Gargaphi soleni, Hemiptera: Tingidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 17:357–362

    Google Scholar 

  • Tallamy DW (1986) Age specificity of "egg dumping" in Gargaphia solani (Hemiptera: Tingidae). Anim Behav 34:599–603

    Google Scholar 

  • Tallamy DW, Horton LA (1990) Costs and benefits of the egg-dumping alternative in Gargaphia lace bugs (Hemiptera: Tingidae). Anim Behav 39:352–359

    Google Scholar 

  • Tallamy DW, Schaefer C (1997) Maternal care in the Hemiptera: ancestry, alternatives, and current adaptive value. In: Choe JC, Crespi BJ (eds) The evolution of social behavior in insects and arachnids. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 94–115

  • Tallamy DW, Wood TK (1986) Convergence patterns in subsocial insects. Annu Rev Entomol 31:369–390

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood TK (1977) Role of parent females and attendant ants in the maturation of the treehopper, Entylia bactriana (Homoptera: Membracidae). Sociobiology 2:257–272

    Google Scholar 

  • Wood TK (1984) Life history patterns of tropical membracids (Homoptera: Membracidae). Sociobiology 8:299–344

    Google Scholar 

  • Wood TK (1993) Diversity in the new world Membracidae. Annu Rev Entomol 38:409–435

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yamauchi A (1993) Theory of intraspecific nest parasitism in birds. Anim Behav 46:335–345

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yom-Tov Y (1980) Intraspecific nest parasitism in birds. Biol Rev 55:93–108

    Google Scholar 

  • Yom-Tov Y (2001) An updated list and some comments on the occurance of intraspecific nest parasitism in birds. Ibis 143:133–143

    Google Scholar 

  • Zink AG (2000) The evolution of intraspecific brood parastisim in birds and insects. Am Nat 155:395–405

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Zink AG (2001) The optimal degree of parental care asymmetry among communal breeders. Anim Behav 61:439–446

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to R. Bergman for permission to work on his beautiful property near Irish Hill. B. Barbosa, C. McDonnell and E. Pueschel provided valuable assistance in the field. I thank P. Buston, B. Danforth, M. Geber, M. Hauber, M. Loeb, H.K. Reeve, R. Root, P. Sherman and two anonymous reviewers for providing excellent comments on earlier drafts. A. Wild kindly helped with identification of the ants. This work was supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellowship, the Ecology and Systematics Student Research Fund at Cornell University, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew G. Zink.

Additional information

Communicated by D. Gwynne

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zink, A.G. Intraspecific brood parasitism as a conditional reproductive tactic in the treehopper Publilia concava . Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54, 406–415 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-003-0649-5

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-003-0649-5

Keywords

Navigation