Evolution of periodicity in periodical cicadas
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Periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) in the USA are famous for their unique prime-numbered life cycles of 13 and 17 years and their nearly perfectly synchronized mass emergences. Because almost all known species of cicada are non-periodical, periodicity is assumed to be a derived state. A leading hypothesis for the evolution of periodicity in Magicicada implicates the decline in average temperature during glacial periods. During the evolution of periodicity, the determinant of maturation in ancestral cicadas is hypothesized to have switched from size dependence to time (period) dependence. The selection for the prime-numbered cycles should have taken place only after the fixation of periodicity. Here, we build an individual-based model of cicadas under conditions of climatic cooling to explore the fixation of periodicity. In our model, under cold environments, extremely long juvenile stages lead to extremely low adult densities, limiting mating opportunities and favouring the evolution of synchronized emergence. Our results indicate that these changes, which were triggered by glacial cooling, could have led to the fixation of periodicity in the non-periodical ancestors.
- Scientific Reports
Scientific Reports (5), 2015-09-14
Nature Publishing Group