Living With One Ovary

Many insects are prolific producing large numbers of offspring each of which has low probability of reaching the adult stage, the so called R-Strategists. Other insects are K-Strategists, investing many resources in a few offspring. Dung Beetles provide parental care by collecting food for their young. Dung beetles will collect a suitable amount of dung (some by rolling a ball of dung away from a larger pile) lay and egg on the dung and bury it to give their offspring sole access to the food. The process of dung collection requires time and energy which reduces the number of eggs that can be provided with food.

Female Rainbow Scarab

Female Rainbow Scarab
Photo: Scott Nelson

Female dung beetles are adapted to producing few eggs. One curious adaptation is the development of only one (the left) of the two ovaries in the adult female. One ovary can produce enough eggs and resources that would otherwise be devoted to developing a second ovary are used elsewhere. This adaptation occurred early in the evolution of the dung beetles (Scarabaeinae) as it is a character shared by the species in this subfamily.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Taxonomy. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Living With One Ovary

  1. Nancy says:

    Amazing how intelligent and hard they work to provide and care for their young.

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