Evol Ecol Res 19: 107-125 (2018)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Modelling the evolution of periodicity in the periodical cicadas

Jaakko Toivonen and Lutz Fromhage

Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

Correspondence: J. Toivonen, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland. email: jaakko.toivonen@alumni.helsinki.fi


Background: Periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) have a life cycle that ends with the entire underground nymph population exhibiting a synchronized mass emergence to mate above ground. Previous studies have hypothesized that the periodical cicadas evolved from non-periodical cicadas by switching from a life-cycle length determined by body size to one determined by age.

Questions: When can a mutation coding for fixed life-cycle length invade a resident population in which life-cycle length is variable? What determines the length of the fixed cycle?

Methods: Numerical analysis of a mathematical model and simulations of an individual-based model.

Results: If there is a sufficiently strong predation intensity affecting the pool of individuals emerging to reproduce, a non-periodical population may become proto-periodical such that reproductive success varies yearly. Then, an emergence strategy with a fixed life-cycle length targeting years of high emergence density can invade.

Keywords: Allee effect, individual-based simulation, numerical analysis, periodical cicadas, semelparity, structured population model.

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