- Asymmetry in male lethal fight between parapatric forms of a social spider mite
- Experimental and Applied Acarology
- Volume | Issue number
- 60 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Closely related species often show adjacent geographic distributions, albeit with some overlap. This contiguity is thought to result from secondary contact between (spatially separated) diverging groups or from parapatric speciation. Fights between males of closely related species will affect their chance to mate with females of the other species, which in turn may promote their spatial segregation and drive their speciation. Stigmaeopsis miscanthi is a social spider mite that lives in a group within self-woven nests on leaves of Chinese silver grass. This mite shows lethal male-male fight as a means to maintain a harem, and has two forms showing differences in the levels of male-male aggression, diapause intensity in females and the relative length of the first to third legs. The two forms show parapatric distributions. We found that males of one form readily engage themselves in lethal fight with males of the other form, thereby acquiring the nests and gaining access to females of this other form. Males of the aggressive form tend to win the fights with males of the other form. Their first legs are longer which may provide them with a better weapon and which also indicate a larger body width. However, another determinant of who wins the fight is the length of the third legs which can be a proxy for body length. Based on these results, we hypothesize that male killing behavior is one of the mechanisms maintaining parapatry (instead of sympatry) of the two spider mite forms apart from difference in diapause attributes.
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