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Journal Article

Costs of delayed dispersal and alloparental care in the fungus-cultivating ambrosia beetle Xyleborus affinis Eichhoff (Scolytinae: Curculionidae)

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Biedermann, P., Klepzig, K. D., & Taborsky, M. (2011). Costs of delayed dispersal and alloparental care in the fungus-cultivating ambrosia beetle Xyleborus affinis Eichhoff (Scolytinae: Curculionidae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(9), 1753-1761. doi:10.1007/s00265-011-1183-5.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-5092-D
Body reserves may determine the reproductive output of animals, depending on their resource allocation strategy. In insects, an accumulation of reserves for reproduction is often obtained before dispersal by pre-emergence (or maturation) feeding. This has been assumed to be an important cause of delayed dispersal from the natal nest in scolytine beetles. In the cooperatively breeding ambrosia beetles, this is of special interest because in this group delayed dispersal could serve two alternative purposes: "selfish" maturation feeding or "altruistic" alloparental care. To distinguish between these two possibilities, we have experimentally studied the effect of delayed dispersal on future reproductive output in the xyleborine ambrosia beetle Xyleborus affinis. Females experimentally induced to disperse and delayed dispersing females did not differ in their body condition at dispersal and in their founding success afterwards, which indicates that females disperse independently of condition, and staying adult females are fully mature and would be able to breed. However, induced dispersers produced more offspring than delayed dispersers within a test period of 40 days. This suggests that delayed dispersal comes at a cost to females, which may result primarily from alloparental care and leads to a reduced reproductive output. Alternatively, females might have reproduced prior to dispersal. This is unlikely, however, for the majority of dispersing females because of the small numbers of offspring present in the gallery when females dispersed, suggesting that mainly the foundress had reproduced. In addition, "gallery of origin" was a strong predictor of the reproductive success of females, which may reflect variation in the microbial complex transmitted vertically from the natal nest to the daughter colony, or variation of genetic quality. These results have important implications for the understanding of proximate mechanisms selecting for philopatry and alloparental care in highly social ambrosia beetles and other cooperatively breeding arthropods.