Average fecundity rates and survival are the main components of fitness estimates in studies comparing performance of insect populations. Reproduction is inherently age related in most insect species, and age-specific offspring production is very important in determining fitness components. However, comparison of age-specific reproduction rates are not straight forward and most studies limit analyses to comparisons of average fecundity rates and survival as the main components of the performance of insect populations. We develop a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve approach to compare lifetime oviposition distributions. We use empirical data of a study of Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) populations, where each fly's lifetime oviposition distribution was recorded for samples studied in natural and artificial oviposition substrates. Currently, there exists no routinely used methodology for the comparison of oviposition distributions and assessment of their separation. ROC analysis is regularly used in two-sample problems in medical biostatistics when the main task is depiction and quantification of the separation of the empirical distributions from which the data arise. Adaptation of such an analysis to our data has shown that age-specific egg-laying distributions can differ, whereas average fecundity rates do not. Therefore, ROC analysis provides a method of gaining insight in the biological process of egg-laying patterns in relatively long-lived insects with many practical and theoretical implications in entomological experimentation.
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Vol. 102 • No. 5