Specialist pollinating seed predator exhibits oviposition strategy consistent with optimal oviposition theory
- The outcome of mutualistic interactions depends on the costs and benefits for each of the partners, which have been shown to be both context- and species-dependent. This phenomenon is seen in the interactions between plants in the genus Silene and moths in the genus Hadena.
- In this study, the interaction between native North American species Silene stellata and Hadena ectypa is examined to understand the factors that influence female H. ectypa oviposition decisions, a behaviour that influences both herbivore and plant fitness.
- While most studies focus on oviposition preference between different host plant species, here it is shown that for a specialist pollinating seed predator, oviposition preference occurs within a host species (and even within a plant) based upon individual flower age and pollination status.
- Female H. ectypa preferentially visited and oviposited on young flowers and flowers that were unpollinated. Larvae also preferred to feed on young fruits.
- Female H. ectypa oviposition choice was consistent with optimal oviposition theory, as oviposition preference was correlated with larval feeding preference and not just adult visitation preference.