Costs and benefits of territoriality: behavioral and reproductive release by competing aphids.

T. G. Whitham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Colonizing stem mothers of the gall-forming aphid Pemphigus betae defend gall sites on narrowleaf cottonwood Populus angustifolia. Kicking-shoving contests are used to establish microterritories 3- 5 mm in length. The largest stem mothers usually win in competitive bouts. Small differences in body size are more importantly associated with territorial interactions than with fecundity. Stem mothers that win the superior basal position of a leaf produce an average of 56% more progeny than stem mothers displaced to inferior distal positions. Differences in reproductive performance within a leaf result from microhabitat variation in leaf quality. A change of only a few millimetres in the position of the gall on the leaf blade affects aphid reproduction. The impact of competitive release on reproductive success is asymmetrical. The distal stem mother of a competing pair achieves an average 48.5% increase in number of progeny, whereas the basal stem mother achieves an 18.5% increase in number of progeny. The largest stem mothers are solitary; their despotic behavior prevents smaller competitors from settling. - from Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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