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Cell Position During Larval Development Affects Postdiapause Development in Megachile rotundata (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

George D Yocum, Joseph P Rinehart, William P Kemp
Environmental entomology 2014 v.43 no.4 pp. 1045-1052
Megachile rotundata, brood cells, environmental factors, females, insect larvae, larval development, males, nesting, phenotype, prepupae, rearing
Megachile rotundata (F.) (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) is the primary pollinator of alfalfa in the northwestern United States and western Canada and provides pollination services for onion, carrot, hybrid canola, various legumes, and other specialty crops. M. rotundata females are gregarious, nest in cavities either naturally occurring or in artificial nesting blocks, where they construct a linear series of brood cells. Because of the physical layout of the nest, the age of the larvae within the nest and the microenvironment the individual larvae experience will vary. These interacting factors along with other maternal inputs affect the resulting phenotypes of the nest mates. To further our understanding of in-nest physiology, gender and developmental rates were examined in relationship to cell position within the nest. Eighty-two percent of the females were located within the first three cells, those furthest from the nest entrance. For those individuals developing in cells located in the deepest half of the nest, the sex of the previous bee had a significant effect on the female decision of the gender of the following nest mate. Removing the prepupae from the nest and rearing them under identical conditions demonstrated that position within the nest during larval development had a significant effect on the postdiapause developmental rates, with males whose larval development occurred deeper in the nest developing more slowly than those toward the entrance. No positional effect on postdiapause developmental rates was noted for the females. The cell position effect on male postdiapause developmental rate demonstrates that postdiapause development is not a rigid physiological mechanism uniform in all individuals, but is a dynamic plastic process shaped by past environmental conditions.