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1 June 2005 Life History Adaptation to Changeable Agricultural Habitats: Developmental Plasticity Leads to Cohort Splitting in an Agrobiont Wolf Spider
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Abstract

The wolf spider, Pardosa agrestis Westring (Araneae: Lycosidae), is a dominant arthropod predator in central European agricultural areas. Recent studies have indicated that this spider has a unique phenology among Pardosa species. Three years of systematic field monitoring of a P. agrestis population in Hungary confirmed that an early summer peak (P1) of adults typical of the Pardosa genus is followed by a second late summer peak (P2) that does not occur among congenerics. Rearing experiments conducted outdoors revealed that offspring from P1 can reach maturity in ≈2 mo time, well before the end of summer. Thus, P2 adults represent a second generation of the species, with a chance for a potentially successful reproduction. However, the speed of development was variable among P1 offspring; individuals, which proved to be slower developers, did not mature during P2; rather they overwintered as juveniles and matured during the following year P1 period. Thus, members of the P1 cohort followed different developmental pathways; this corresponds to a cohort-splitting strategy. Splitting occurred even among spiderlings originating from the same clutch (cocoon) at the beginning of P1. In contrast, spiderlings born at the end of P1 uniformly matured by next spring. Splitting among offspring spreads the mother’s reproductive success between risk averse slow-developing and risk prone fast-developing offspring. The facultative bivoltine life cycle arising through cohort splitting may allow P. agrestis to adapt to predictably ephemeral agricultural habitats by flexibly producing the most dispersive juvenile stages in synchrony with the appearance of vacated habitats.

Balázs Kiss and Ferenc Samu "Life History Adaptation to Changeable Agricultural Habitats: Developmental Plasticity Leads to Cohort Splitting in an Agrobiont Wolf Spider," Environmental Entomology 34(3), 619-626, (1 June 2005). https://doi.org/10.1603/0046-225X-34.3.619
Received: 30 September 2004; Accepted: 1 February 2005; Published: 1 June 2005
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