Canadian Forest Service Publications

Broad-scale latitudinal variation in female reproductive success contributes to the maintenance of a geographic range boundary in bagworms (Lepidoptera: Psychidae) 2010. Rhainds, M; Fagan, W.F. PLoS ONE 5(11): e14166.

Year: 2010

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32039

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free)

Mark record


Background Geographic range limits and the factors structuring them are of great interest to biologists, in part because of concerns about how global change may shift range boundaries. However, scientists lack strong mechanistic understanding of the factors that set geographic range limits in empirical systems, especially in animals. Methodology/Principal Findings Across dozens of populations spread over six degrees of latitude in the American Midwest, female mating success of the evergreen bagworm Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Lepidoptera: Psychidae) declines from ~100% to ~0% near the edge of the species range. When coupled with additional latitudinal declines in fecundity and in egg and pupal survivorship, a spatial gradient of bagworm reproductive success emerges. This gradient is associated with a progressive decline in local abundance and an increased risk of local population extinction, up to a latitudinal threshold where extremely low female fitness meshes spatially with the species' geographic range boundary. Conclusions/Significance The reduction in fitness of female bagworms near the geographic range limit, which concords with the abundant centre hypothesis from biogeography, provides a concrete, empirical example of how an Allee effect (increased pre-reproductive mortality of females in sparsely populated areas) may interact with other demographic factors to induce a geographic range limit.

Plain Language Summary

A mathematical model was developed to convert cumulative estimates of proportional data into punctual estimates to infer temporal life history trajectory of female reproductive output.