Soldiers with Large Weapons in Predator-Abundant Midsummer - Research Paper Example

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The article outlines how variations in organismal traits are associated with the ecological environments. Research indicates that biological interactions such as predation can result in variations in functional attributes within and among prey species…
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Soldiers with Large Weapons in Predator-Abundant Midsummer
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Soldiers with large weapons in predator-abundant midsummer: phenotypic plasticity in a eusocial aphid
The article outlines how variations in organismal traits are associated to the ecological environments. Research indicates that biological interactions such as predation can result in variations in functional attributes within and among prey species. Another factor that can shape trait variation in prey is plastic induction. These organisms reveal strategies in reaction to environmental signals both directly and indirectly demonstrating predator emergence. Hence, spatiotemporal variation in the might of the prey-predator relations can bring about trait variations among and within populations of prey species. Being in a position to comprehend the casual mechanisms and outcomes of trait variation can present imperative insights of how organismal phenotypes are manipulated in the process of evolution and how they influence communal dynamics and the population.
Different approaches are used to determine the variation in trait. One notable approach involves measuring the number of aphids in colonies that belong to each of the three wild populations, and the number of predators of each colony. Three separate colonies, all in Japan were used in the study. One aspect to the colonies that was mutual was that they were all situated at the periphery of deciduous forests, where the S. senanensis host plant was found in abundance. Each colony was surveyed one to three times each month. The survey was conducted in August, 2006. In each survey, S. senanensis leaves were picked up, each must have had a colony of aphid so as to collect both the aphid and the predator. All aphids and predators collected were placed in ethanol and then preserved in plastic bags.
Aphid mothers seemingly produce sturdy soldiers as a sole reaction to environmental temperature. This is done just before the coming of the “dangerous time” as a move that can expound on the mechanism of the spatiotemporal variation in natural populations. These results may actually be the initial indication of the evidence of the actuality of an adaptive strategy in relation to the morphological characteristics of soldiers in aphids. The results do not reveal much about the defensive strategy of the aphids, in particular, the factors influencing the production of soldiers in C. japonica. The correlation between production of soldiers and soldier armature can be approximated by measuring up the number and armature of soldier produced by the aphids that have been nurtured at different environmental temperature.
Evolutionary ecologists have been keen to study phenotypic plasticity of species of prey in various taxonomic groups. As of this study, one form of adaptive phenotypic plasticity is that of the expression of the defensive phenotype reliant on predation risk. Although this defence mechanism may be effective against predators, it comes at a fitness cost. It is then paramount to use this defence mechanism only when needed so as to limit the fitness cost an organism has to endure. What this then means is that the aptitude to induce a defensive phenotype can be a target of natural selection. It is therefore likely more beneficial for colony advancement that mother aphids balance the production of soldiers and the production of reproductive characters relative to the magnitude of predation risk.

Hattori, Mitsuru., Kishida, O & Itino, T. "Soldiers with large weapons in predator-abundant midsummer: phenotypic plasticity in a eusocial aphid." Evolutionary Ecology, 27 (2013): 847–862. Print. Read More
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