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Consequences of the arms race between Maculinea teleius social parasite and Myrmica host ants for myrmecophilous butterfly conservation

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The arms race between Maculinea butterflies and Myrmica host ants leads to local host-parasite adaptations. In our study, we assessed whether sympatric and allopatric Myrmica scabrinodis populations exhibit behavioural differences towards Maculinea teleius larvae during the adoption-period when butterfly larvae need to be taken inside the Myrmica nest. The second aim was to assess the butterfly survival rate inside ant colonies from different populations. We used one sympatric host population and three allopatric populations: one infested by M. teleius and two uninfested populations. We found that ants from the sympatric population showed a higher number of positive behaviours toward M. teleius larvae during adoption than ants from the allopatric populations. There were no differences in the number of inspection or negative behaviour events. The survival of butterfly larvae was highest inside sympatric host colonies and differed from the survival of M. teleius reared by ants from the allopatric, uninfested populations. No difference was found for the survival rate of M. teleius raised by infested, allopatric host colonies compared to sympatric host populations. Our results suggest the lack of behavioural counter-adaptations of local hosts of M. teleius that more easily adopt and rear butterfly caterpillars compared to naive M. scabrinodis colonies. Our results may also have implications for Maculinea butterfly conservation, especially for reintroduction programmes. We suggest that the existence of behavioural host defences should be checked for the source host population, as well as for the Myrmica population from the reintroduction site. It may also be reasonable to introduce several Myrmica host colonies from the source butterfly host population.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
Magdalena Witek
mawitus@yahoo.co.uk
1 Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of
Science, Wilcza 64, 00-679 Warszawa, Poland
2 HungarianDepartmentofBiologyandEcology,Babeș-
Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006 Cluj-Napoca,
Romania
Received: 8 March 2016 / Accepted: 3 October 2016 / Published online: 6 October 2016
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
Consequences of the arms race between Maculinea teleius social
parasite and Myrmica host ants for myrmecophilous buttery
conservation
Magdalena Witek1 · Piotr Ślipiński1 · Gema Trigos Peral1 · Enikő Csata2
J Insect Conserv (2016) 20:887–893
DOI 10.1007/s10841-016-9925-3
conservation, especially for reintroduction programmes.
We suggest that the existence of behavioural host defences
should be checked for the source host population, as well
as for the Myrmica population from the reintroduction site.
It may also be reasonable to introduce several Myrmica
hostcolonies fromthesourcebutteryhostpopulation.
Keywords Coevolution · Counter-adaptations ·
Host-parasite interaction · Phengaris · Reintroduction
Introduction
Species interactions, including co-evolutionary dynamics
between parasites and hosts, are the most important forces
in evolution and speciation (Thompson 1999a). Accord-
ing to the geographical mosaic theory of co-evolution,
interactions within a single parasite-host system can differ
in various populations and depend on diverse community
structures (Thompson 1999b).
Myrmica ants are the hosts of many organisms belonging
to various taxa, ranging from bacteria and fungi to social
parasitic insects including the larvae of Maculinea (=Phen-
garis)butteries(Witeketal.2014). The latter species are
obligate, parasitic myrmecophilous butteries whose lar-
vae have to complete their development inside ant nests
(Thomas 1980). Different Maculinea species and popula-
tions use various Myrmica ants as their hosts and the com-
plex patterns of host use found for Maculineabutteriesand
their hosts represent a geographical mosaic of co-evolution
(Tartally et al. 2008; Nash et al. 2008). The most impor-
tant mechanism playing a role in the adoption and integra-
tion of MaculineabutteriesinsidetheMyrmica colonies is
mimicry in chemical (Akino et al. 1999; Schönrogge et al.
2004; Nash et al. 2008) and acoustical signals (Barbero and
Abstract The arms race between Maculinea butteries
and Myrmica host ants leads to local host-parasite adap-
tations. In our study, we assessed whether sympatric and
allopatric Myrmica scabrinodis populations exhibit behav-
ioural differences towards Maculinea teleius larvae during
theadoption-periodwhenbutterylarvaeneedtobetaken
inside the Myrmica nest. The second aim was to assess
thebutterysurvivalrateinsideantcoloniesfromdifferent
populations. We used one sympatric host population and
three allopatric populations: one infested by M. teleius and
two uninfested populations. We found that ants from the
sympatric population showed a higher number of positive
behaviours toward M. teleius larvae during adoption than
ants from the allopatric populations. There were no differ-
ences in the number of inspection or negative behaviour
events.Thesurvivalofbuttery larvaewashighestinside
sympatric host colonies and differed from the survival of
M. teleius reared by ants from the allopatric, uninfested
populations. No difference was found for the survival rate
of M. teleius raised by infested, allopatric host colonies
compared to sympatric host populations. Our results sug-
gest the lack of behavioural counter-adaptations of local
hosts of M. teleiusthatmoreeasilyadoptandrearbuttery
caterpillars compared to naive M. scabrinodis colonies. Our
results may also have implications for Maculineabuttery
1 3
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