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Exp Appl Acarol. 2000;24(5-6):351-63.

Do kin selection and intra-sexual selection operate in spider mites?

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  • 1Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.


Between the two subsocial spider mites, Schizotetranychus longus Saito and S. miscanthi Saito, a big difference exists in male reproductive behavior. The males of the former species have an extraordinarily mild relationship with conspecific males, whereas those of the latter species show mortal aggression against conspecific males. Field and experimental observations on the structure of mating populations showed that S. longus is under inbreeding conditions because of a lack of males in early spring, whereas S. miscanthi is under outbreeding conditions. Therefore, I hypothesized that the difference in male antagonism between the two species may reflect the difference in relatedness of males, that is, it has evolved by kin selection. The recent discovery of two clinal trends in male-male aggression in S. miscanthi provided evidence in favour of this hypothesis. Furthermore, a correlation analyses between experimentally evaluated male aggression and distribution patterns of males in the field indicated that the variation in male antagonism is actually reflected in field populations. Based on these studies, I discuss the solidity of the kin-selection hypothesis. Lastly I address how spider mites are fruitful model animals for conducting behavioral, ecological and genetic studies to understand the evolution of haplo-diploidy.

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