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Is there a role for stripes of adults and colour of larvae in determining the avoidance of the Colorado potato beetle by the American toad?

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Abstract:

It has been suggested that the stripes on the elytra of the adult Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say, 1824); Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) and the red colouration of the larvae are aposematic characters warning predators of their distastefulness as prey. The role of stripes and red colour in determining the avoidance behaviour of the American Toad (Bufo americanus Holbrook, 1836 = Anaxyrus americanus (Holbrook, 1836); Anura: Bufonidae) for the Colorado potato beetle was investigated in a series of laboratory tests. The behaviour of toads exposed to wild Colorado potato beetles was compared with that of toads exposed to genetic mutant Colorado potato beetles without elytral stripes. Tests confirmed the distastefulness of adult and larval stages and demonstrated the development of prey avoidance (cessation of feeding in spite of hunger) combined or not to behavioural displays where the toad plants down, crouches, and turns away or shows wincing, prey dropping, and mouth gaping after snapping at the beetle. However, toads showed the same response to mutant adult beetles without stripes and to mutant larval beetles without the red colour as to wild adult beetles with stripes and to wild red larvae. Results indicate that the stripes and the red colouration of the Colorado potato beetle do not constitute aposematic characters for the toad.

On a suggéré que les bandes sur les élytres des adultes et la coloration rouge des larves chez le doryphore de la pomme de terre (Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say, 1824); Coleoptera : Chrysomelidae), sont des caractères aposématiques qui avertissent les prédateurs du goût désagréable de ces proies. Nous avons étudié le rôle des bandes et de la couleur rouge comme variables explicatives du comportement d’évitement des doryphores de la pomme de terre par le crapaud américain (Bufo americanus Holbrook, 1836 = Anaxyrus americanus (Holbrook, 1836); Anura : Bufonidae), dans une série de tests en laboratoire. Nous avons comparé le comportement de crapauds exposés à des doryphores de la pomme de terre sauvages à celui de crapauds mis en présence de mutants génétiques du doryphore de la pomme de terre sans bandes sur les élytres. Les tests confirment le goût désagréable des adultes et des larves et montrent le développement d’un comportement d’évitement (arrêt de l’alimentation malgré la faim) associé ou non à des postures comportementales dans lesquelles le crapaud se braque, s’accroupit et tourne le dos ou alors sourcille, laisse tomber la proie et ouvre grand la bouche après avoir saisi le doryphore. Cependant, les crapauds montrent la même réaction en présence de doryphores adultes mutants sans bandes et de larves de doryphores mutantes sans coloration rouge qu’en présence de doryphores adultes sauvages avec bandes et de larves sauvages rouges. Nos résultats indiquent que les bandes et la couleur rouge des doryphores de la pomme de terre ne représentent pas des caractères aposématiques pour le crapaud.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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