Life History Consequences of the Facultative Expression of a Dispersal Life Stage in the Phoretic Bulb Mite (Rhizoglyphus robini).
Deere JA., Coulson T., Smallegange IM.
Life history traits play an important role in population dynamics and correlate, both positively and negatively, with dispersal in a wide range of taxa. Most invertebrate studies on trade-offs between life history traits and dispersal have focused on dispersal via flight, yet much less is known about how life history trade-offs influence species that disperse by other means. In this study, we identify effects of investing in dispersal morphology (dispersal expression) on life history traits in the male dimorphic bulb mite (Rhizoglyphus robini). This species has a facultative juvenile life stage (deutonymph) during which individuals can disperse by phoresy. Further, adult males are either fighters (which kill other mites) or benign scramblers. Here, in an experiment, we investigate the effects of investing in dispersal on size at maturity, sex and male morph ratio, and female lifetime reproductive success. We show that life history traits correlate negatively with the expression of the dispersal stage. Remarkably, all males that expressed the dispersal life stage developed into competitive fighters and none into scramblers. This suggests that alternative, male reproductive strategies and dispersal should not be viewed in isolation but considered concurrently.