Parental environments could play an important role in controlling insect outbreaks, provided they influence changes in physiological, developmental or behavioural life-history traits related to fluctuations in population density. However, the potential implication of parental influence in density-related changes in life-history traits remains unclear in many insects that exhibit fluctuating population dynamics, particularly locusts. In this study, we report a laboratory experiment, which enabled us to characterize the life-history trait modifications induced by parental crowding of female individuals from a frequently outbreaking population of Locusta migratoria (Linnaeus) (Orthoptera: Acrididae). We found that a rearing history of crowding led to reduced female oviposition times and increased offspring size but did not affect the developmental time, survival, fecundity, and the sex-ratio and the number of offspring. Because all studied females were raised in a common environment (isolation conditions), these observed reproductive differences are due to trans-generational effects induced by density. We discuss the ecological and evolutionary implications of the observed density-dependent parental effects on the life-history of L. migratoria.
(Accepted December 17 2008)
(Online publication May 05 2009)
p1 Current address: School of Biological Sciences, The Macleay Building A12, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia