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Developmental constraints in cave beetles

AuthorsCieslak, Alexandra ; Fresneda, Javier; Ribera, Ignacio
Issue DateOct-2014
PublisherRoyal Society (Great Britain)
CitationBiology Letters 10: 20140712 (2014)
AbstractIn insects, whilst variations in life cycles are common, the basic patterns typical for particular groups remain generally conserved. One of the more extreme modifications is found in some subterranean beetles of the tribe Leptodirini, in which the number of larval instars is reduced from the ancestral three to two and ultimately one, which is not active and does not feed. We analysed all available data on the duration and size of the different developmental stages and compared them in a phylogenetic context. The total duration of development was found to be strongly conserved, irrespective of geographical location, habitat type, number of instars and feeding behaviour of the larvae, with a single alteration of the developmental pattern in a clade of cave species in southeast France. We also found a strong correlation of the size of the first instar larva with adult size, again regardless of geographical location, ecology and type of life cycle. Both results suggest the presence of deeply conserved constraints in the timing and energy requirements of larval development. Past focus on more apparent changes, such as the number of larval instars, may mask more deeply conserved ontogenetic patterns in developmental timing. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0712
issn: 1744-9561
e-issn: 1744-957X
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