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Brood Pumping Modulation and the Benefits of Paternal Care in Abedus breviceps (Hemiptera: Belostomatidae)

Authors

  • Roberto Munguía-Steyer,

    1.  Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Km. 2.5 Carretera Antigua a Coatepec # 351., Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
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  • Mario E. Favila,

    1.  Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Departamento de Biodiversidad y Ecología Animal, Km. 2.5 Carretera Antigua a Coatepec # 351., Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
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  • Rogelio Macías-Ordóñez

    1.  Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Km. 2.5 Carretera Antigua a Coatepec # 351., Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
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R. Munguía-Steyer, Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Km. 2.5 Carretera Antigua a Coatepec # 351., 91070 Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.
E-mail: robermunguia@gmail.com

Abstract

Males of the subfamily Belostomatinae, within the giant waterbugs (Hemiptera: Belostomatidae), brood eggs on their backs from oviposition until egg-hatching. The eggs in the clutch must be kept moistened and exposed to enough oxygen flow for them to develop properly and maximize hatching success. When submerged, males regularly perform different behavioral patterns that promote oxygen flow to the eggs. One of these patterns, brood pumping, consists of ‘push-up’ like movements using their hind legs. In this study, we assessed if temperature, oxygen dissolved in the water and the developmental stage of the clutch influence brood pumping rate in Abedus breviceps. In the wild, we found that males covered with bigger eggs showed a higher brood pumping rate than that of males with smaller eggs. An analysis of egg growth curves under laboratory conditions demonstrated that males that did not perform brood pumping were carrying broods that were in the first third of their developmental period. We also found that non-brooded clutches had a much lower hatching success than those brooded by males, even when exposed to controlled and favorable environmental conditions. We discuss the persistence and modulation of paternal care intensity in belostomatines as an aptative character conditioned by environmental and anatomical features.

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