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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 152139, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/152139
Research Article

Ant-Related Oviposition and Larval Performance in a Myrmecophilous Lycaenid

1USDA Forest Service, National Forests of Florida, 325 John Knox Road, Suite F-100, Tallahassee, FL 32303, USA
2Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Road, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
3Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, P.O. Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

Received 27 February 2013; Accepted 29 March 2013

Academic Editor: Mats Olsson

Copyright © 2013 Matthew D. Trager et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We experimentally assessed ant-related oviposition and larval performance in the Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri). Ant tending had sex-dependent effects on most measures of larval growth: female larvae generally benefitted from increased tending frequency whereas male larvae were usually unaffected. The larger size of female larvae tended by ants resulted in a substantial predicted increase in lifetime egg production. Oviposition by adult females that were tended by C. floridanus ants as larvae was similar between host plants with or without ants. However, they laid relatively more eggs on plants with ants than did females raised without ants, which laid less than a third of their eggs on plants with ants present. In summary, we found conditional benefits for larvae tended by ants that were not accompanied by oviposition preference for plants with ants present, which is a reasonable result for a system in which ant presence at the time of oviposition is not a reliable indicator of future ant presence. More broadly, our results emphasize the importance of considering the consequences of variation in interspecific interactions, life history traits, and multiple measures of performance when evaluating the costs and benefits of mutualistic relationships.