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The priming of periodical cicada life cycles.

Authors
  • Grant, Peter R
Type
Published Article
Journal
Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2005
Volume
20
Issue
4
Pages
169–174
Identifiers
PMID: 16701364
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Periodical cicadas in the genus Magicicada have unusually long life cycles for insects, with periodicities of either 13 or 17 years. Biologists have explained the evolution of these prime number period lengths in terms of resource limitation, enemy avoidance, hybridization and climate change. Here, I question two aspects of these explanations: that the origin of the life cycles was associated with Pleistocene ice age events, and that they evolved from shorter life cycles through the lengthening of nymphal stages in annual increments. Instead, I suggest that these life cycles evolved earlier than the Pleistocene and involved an abrupt transition from a nine-year to a 13-year life cycle, driven, in part, by interspecific competition.

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