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Behavior of Frankliniella occidentalis within aggregations, and morphometric correlates of fighting

, : Behavior of Frankliniella occidentalis within aggregations, and morphometric correlates of fighting. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 89(4): 589-602

Within aggregations of the western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), males varied in the intensity of their aggressive interactions with other males. Most interactions between males consisted of eitheran immediate parting or a short single bout of abdominal flicking before parting. Escalated aggressive interactions between a pair of males included several bouts of abdominal sparring (males flipping their abdomens at each other), followed by one male that climbed on the grabbed his opponent. His opponent continued abdominal flipping. Females that entered the aggregations generally mated with the 1st male they encountered. Within Gloxinia blossoms, females were approximately evenly distributed across different floral parts, whereas males, fighting, and mating occurred primarily on the corolla lobes. Sizes and shapes of males were examined by multivariate techniques to determine whether there were morphological differences among groups of males exhibiting different behaviors. Both size-included and size-free discriminant functions described differences that separate fighters from those not observed fighting. Fighting males had generally wider abdomens, longer legs and wings, and greater weight than males not observed fighting. Shape-dependent character contrasts determined by the size-free discriminant function indicated that fighters also had relatively larger foreleg femora, longer legs and wider abdominal segments than expected based on their increased size. Less aggressive males had longer but narrower abdominal segments and smaller legs than expected based on their overall smaller size. Size-related fighting activity has not been reported in the context of mating in the thysanopteran suborder, Terebrantia.

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