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Environ Entomol. 2014 Feb;43(1):91-101. doi: 10.1603/EN12310. Epub 2013 Dec 16.

Consequences of intraspecific variation in female body size in Stagmomantis limbata (Mantodea: Mantidae): feeding ecology, male attraction, and egg production.

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Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, National University, 11255 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Body size is an important feature of organisms, influencing many components of life history and fitness, such as feeding success and reproductive output. Body size is considered especially salient for solitary predators, whose food intake hinges on individual predation success, which in turn is often driven by the relative sizes of predator and prey. The current study examined intraspecific variation in adult female length and its fitness consequences in a solitary predator, the praying mantid Stagmomantis limbata Hahn. Through a 5-yr integration of observational and experimental work in the field and captivity, we investigated the relationship between female pronotum length and prey size, diet breadth, male attraction, and measures of egg production (fecundity and ootheca mass). We found that longer females ate longer prey in the field and showed greater breadth of prey size than shorter females. Longer females did not necessarily feed at higher rates in the field, as measured by the rate of abdominal expansion. Female length failed to show significant effects on male attraction or on the incidence of cannibalism. Longer females had higher fecundity (mature eggs in body at death) and laid heavier oothecae than shorter females. In nature, longer females consistently emerged as adults earlier in the season than shorter females. Shorter female adults emerged when feeding rates were higher in the field, suggesting an incidental ecological benefit of shorter adult size.

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