Biology and ecology of alchisme grossa in a cloud forest of the Bolivian Yungas
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Treehoppers (Membracidae) exhibit different levels of sociality, from solitary to presocial. Although they are one of the best biological systems to study the evolution of maternal care in insects, information on the biology of species in this group is scarce. This work describes the biology and ecology of Alchisme grossa (Fairmaire) (Hemiptera: Membracidae) in a rain cloud forest of Bolivia. This subsocial membracid utilizes two host-plant species, Brugmansia suaveolens (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Wild) Bercht. & J.Presl and Solanum ursinum (Rusby) (both Solanaceae), the first one being used during the whole year and the second one almost exclusively during the wet season. The development of A. grossa from egg to adult occurred on the plant where eggs were laid. Maternal care was observed during the complete nymphal development, and involved behavioral traits such as food facilitation and antidepredatory defense. Life cycle was longer on B. suaveolens during the dry season and shorter on S. ursinum during the wet season. Mortality was similar on both host plants during the wet season but was lower on B. suaveolens during the dry season. The presence of a secondary female companion to the egg-guarding female individual and occasional iteropary is also reported.
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