Divergent timing of egg-laying may maintain life history polymorphism in potentially multivoltine insects in seasonal environments


Panu Välimäki, Department of Biology, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland.
Tel.: +358 8 553 1256; fax: +358 8 553 1061; e-mail: panu.valimaki@oulu.fi


The length of the favourable season determines voltinism in insect populations. In some insects, there is variation in fecundity and timing of reproduction among females. If the length of the favourable season does not allow all offspring to develop into adults without diapause, the benefits of high early fecundity may outweigh the associated cost of low lifetime fecundity. We tested this by exploring mating frequencies of Pieris napi females along a latitudinal gradient in different generations. Pieris napi is a bivoltine butterfly, and genetically polyandrous females enjoy higher lifetime fecundity than monandrous ones. Polyandry is, however, coupled with a relatively low early fecundity. We found that monandrous females are more likely to produce an additional generation than polyandrous ones under conditions that allow production of only a partial summer generation. Monandrous females were also the first to emerge and slightly over-represented in the summer generation under conditions that allow the development of a complete summer generation. Further, a stochastic model shows that variation in the timing of reproduction between strategies is sufficient to explain the observed patterns. Thus, seasonality may counter-select against polyandry, or more generally against low early reproductive rate, and promote maintenance of polymorphism in life history strategies.