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Article

Environment and Local Substrate Availability Effects on Harem Formation in a Polygynous Bark Beetle

Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environment Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia
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Academic Editors: Ally Rachel Harari and Emily R. Burdfield-Steel
Insects 2021, 12(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020098
Received: 2 November 2020 / Revised: 19 December 2020 / Accepted: 21 January 2021 / Published: 24 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology of Sex and Sexual Communication in Insects)
Harem polygyny is a mating system where a single male defends a group of females for the purpose of securing multiple mating. While this mating system is well-known in mammals it is uncommon in insect groups. The mating aggregations that occur in insect groups may be driven by environmental conditions or resources available for feeding and breeding. We aimed to determine how the local availability of breeding substrate affects the formation of harems in the five-spined bark beetle, Ips grandicollis. Aggregations are formed when a male bores under the bark of felled pine trees and makes a nuptial chamber. The male then releases an aggregation pheromone that attracts females for mating and other males to also exploit the resource. When the population density was higher the number of females associated with each male was greater. The population density was determined by environmental circumstances with higher density in a pine plantation that was being harvested than in a plantation that was still standing. The amount of substrate (logs per replicate pile) available to the bark beetles also influences the number of beetles attracted to a log and size of individual harems. The environment and local substrate availability did not affect how females distribute themselves around the male. Females did not actively avoid positioning themselves further from neighbouring females to avoid competition. Their arrangement within harems was equivalent to random positioning.
Many forms of polygyny are observed across different animal groups. In some species, groups of females may remain with a single male for breeding, often referred to as “harem polygyny”. The environment and the amount of habitat available for feeding, mating and oviposition may have an effect on the formation of harems. We aimed to determine how the surrounding environment (a harvested or unharvested pine plantation) and availability of local substrate affect the harems of the bark beetle, Ips grandicollis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). In a harvested pine plantation with large amounts of available habitat, the population density of these beetles is much higher than in unharvested plantations. We found the number of females per male to be significantly greater in the harvested plantation than the unharvested one. Additionally, the amount of substrate available in the immediate local vicinity (the number of logs in replicate piles) also influences the number of beetles attracted to a log and size of individual harems. We also examined how females were distributing themselves in their galleries around the males’ nuptial chamber, as previous work has demonstrated the potential for competition between neighbouring females and their offspring. Females do not perform clumping, suggesting some avoidance when females make their galleries, but they also do not distribute themselves evenly. Female distribution around the male’s nuptial chamber appears to be random, and not influenced by other females or external conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: harem polygyny; Ips grandicollis; environmental effects; mating behaviour harem polygyny; Ips grandicollis; environmental effects; mating behaviour
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MDPI and ACS Style

Griffin, M.J.; Symonds, M.R.E. Environment and Local Substrate Availability Effects on Harem Formation in a Polygynous Bark Beetle. Insects 2021, 12, 98. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020098

AMA Style

Griffin MJ, Symonds MRE. Environment and Local Substrate Availability Effects on Harem Formation in a Polygynous Bark Beetle. Insects. 2021; 12(2):98. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020098

Chicago/Turabian Style

Griffin, Melissa J., and Matthew R.E. Symonds 2021. "Environment and Local Substrate Availability Effects on Harem Formation in a Polygynous Bark Beetle" Insects 12, no. 2: 98. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020098

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