Maternal effects and warning signal honesty in eggs and offspring of an aposematic ladybird beetle

Winters, Anne E., Stevens, Martin, Mitchell, Chris, Blomberg, Simon P. and Blount, Jonathan D. (2014) Maternal effects and warning signal honesty in eggs and offspring of an aposematic ladybird beetle. Functional Ecology, 28 5: 1187-1196. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12266

Author Winters, Anne E.
Stevens, Martin
Mitchell, Chris
Blomberg, Simon P.
Blount, Jonathan D.
Title Maternal effects and warning signal honesty in eggs and offspring of an aposematic ladybird beetle
Journal name Functional Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0269-8463
Publication date 2014-01-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/1365-2435.12266
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 28
Issue 5
Start page 1187
End page 1196
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 1105 Dentistry
Abstract The eggs of oviparous species are often subject to intense predation pressure. One parental strategy to deter predators is to produce eggs that are laced with noxious chemicals and are conspicuously coloured (i.e. aposematism). Ladybird eggs are conspicuously coloured and contain alkaloids; these traits are believed to function in concert as visual signal and chemical defence, respectively, to deter predators. However, it remains unclear whether such aposematic signals reveal the strength (rather than simply the existence) of chemical defences. Furthermore, additional functions of egg pigments and toxins could apply; in particular, mothers might deposit such resources into eggs to aid the development of offspring or to provide resources that could contribute to aposematic traits in offspring. We bred wild-caught seven-spot ladybird beetles (Coccinella septempunctata) in the laboratory and then measured relationships between egg coloration and toxin concentrations (i.e. the alkaloids precoccinelline and coccinelline). We also measured relationships between egg carotenoids and egg coloration, and between egg coloration and toxin levels, and the elytra coloration and toxin concentrations of offspring at eclosion for a subset of eggs that were allowed to develop. Egg carotenoids predicted egg colour saturation. In turn, egg colour saturation and hue positively predicted egg concentrations of precoccinelline. However, there were no significant relationships between egg coccinelline concentration and any measure of egg coloration. In recently eclosed adults of both sexes, elytra saturation was significantly explained by variation in egg saturation and hue. Finally, body concentrations of coccinelline were significantly explained by variation in elytra hue. These results suggest that the coloration of C. septempunctata eggs is a reliable signal of the strength of chemical defences contained therein, but in addition, maternal investment of pigments and toxins into eggs may serve to influence the reliability of aposematic signalling in resultant offspring.
Keyword Aposematism
Maternal effects
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID BB/G022887/1
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
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