Duration of paternal care in pine engraver beetles: Why do larger males care less?

  • Robertson I
  • Roitberg B
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Male pine engravers, Ips pini (Coleoptera: Scolytidae), assist their mates during reproduction by removing the debris that accumulates while females excavate oviposition tunnels in the phloem tissue of host tree bark. Although duration of paternal care and male reproductive success are positively correlated, large males leave their mates and brood sooner than small males. We address two hypotheses to explain the earlier departure of larger males from their breeding galleries: (1) females oviposit most rapidly when paired with large males, thereby reducing the length of time that paternal care increases male reproductive success, (2) larger males have better prospects for future reproduction, and thus leave their galleries in search of new breeding opportunities sooner than smaller males. Contrary to the first hypothesis, when females were paired either with large or small males, there was no effect of male size on their rate of oviposition. Consistent with the second hypothesis, males that initiated breeding galleries were larger than males from the general population. In addition, large males flew farther and faster on flight mills than small males, which may indicate that large males have an advantage in locating suitable breeding sites. Thus, we suggest that large male pine engravers leave their galleries earlier than small males because large individuals have better prospects for future reproduction.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ips pini
  • Marginal-value theorem
  • Mate desertion
  • Parental care
  • Scolytidae

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  • Ian C. Robertson

  • Bernard D. Roitberg

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