We studied four demes of the Chinese praying mantid, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis Saussure, in southwestern Virginia for periods ranging from one to six growing seasons to determine life history parameters and population dynamics of this introduced univoltine species. Survival from egg hatch to imago averaged 5%, but there was no significant relationship between initial and adult densities, both of which were highly variable within and among demes. The lowest survival rates (including two deme extinctions) occurred in years where precipitation during the first 2 mo after egg hatch was >50% below a 30-yr mean. Most mortality occurs during the juvenile stadia as a function of food limitation; therefore, dry conditions may have exacerbated this condition. Fecundity was not related to density of adults, but females that were food limited had lower fecundities than those not food limited. Replacement rate, R, averaged ≈1.0 but also was highly variable and was not a significant predictor of densities in successive years. Our results, combined with those from a Maryland study, indicate that deme extinction can be caused by extreme abiotic conditions: cool temperatures delay maturation and curtail reproduction before killing frost, and drought can reduce survival of nymphs to the imago, both of which adversely affect reproductive success. Intrinsic vagility is low, so metapopulation persistence of this and other species with similar life histories may be at risk if climate change increases the rate of deme extinction beyond interdeme dispersal rates.
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