Eucheira socialis caterpillars are gregarious throughout the entire larval life stage; however, the evolutionary reinforcement of this social behavior remains poorly understood. I tested the hypothesis that foraging efficiency and behavior as a function of group size may maintain sociality in this system. Specifically I measured the proportion of larvae feeding, feeding duration, larval contact, mass per capita gain, and survivorship in differently sized groups using naturally occurring second instar caterpillars. Furthermore, as larval sociality is enhanced by a close spatial distribution of egg masses, I tested whether or not females clumped their egg masses. The proportion of larvae feeding, feeding duration, larval contact, mass per capita gain, and survivorship were all positively correlated with group size. Moreover, egg mass distribution was significantly clumped both across trees and on individual trees. This study contributes to our understanding of the evolutionary reinforcement of sociality in early instar E. socialis caterpillars.
|Advisor:||Underwood, Dessie L. A.|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 48/02M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Organismal biology|
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