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1 May 2011 Developmental Plasticity of Life-Cycle Length in Thirteen-Year Periodical Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae)
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Speciation in periodical cicadas (Magicicada Davis) is closely tied to changes in life-cycle length, which presents a paradox because these organisms depend on emergence synchrony for survival. Recently proposed speciation models invoke developmental plasticity as a possible solution: Environmentally triggered “4-yr accelerations” occur in 17-yr cicadas, suggesting that canalization of induced plasticity could change 17-yr populations into temporally isolated 13-yr populations. However, the reverse shift, 13-yr cicadas emerging in 17 yr, has never been documented. We searched 4 yr after the normal emergence of a 13-yr brood (and in a year with no expected periodical cicada emergences anywhere) and found periodical cicadas active at 26 of 92 sites, with examples of all four 13-yr species. At one location, we found evidence of at least 1,724 cicadas per ha emerging. Few males were heard singing at most sites, so these off-schedule cicadas apparently did not survive long in the face of predation. We also found one 13-yr species singing 8 yr late within the range of a different 13-yr brood, suggesting an 8-yr delayed emergence or consecutive generations of 4-yr delayed cicadas. Developmental plasticity in life-cycle length seems to be similar in 13- and 17-yr cicadas—both types possess the ability to switch to the opposite life cycle and to emerge 1 yr early and/or late. The confirmation of a reverse life-cycle switch in 13- cicadas suggests improvements to theories of life-cycle evolution in Magicicada and strengthens the case for developmental plasticity in speciation.

©2011 Entomological Society of America
David C. Marshall, John R. Cooley, and Kathy B. R. Hill "Developmental Plasticity of Life-Cycle Length in Thirteen-Year Periodical Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae)," Annals of the Entomological Society of America 104(3), 443-450, (1 May 2011).
Received: 27 May 2010; Accepted: 1 January 2011; Published: 1 May 2011

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