Behaviour 2019
Fitness Landscapes Reveal Context-Dependent Benefits of Oviposition Choice
Vrinda Ravi Kumar1, Gaurav Agavekar2, Deepa Agashe1. 1National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS-TIFR), Bangalore, Karnataka, India; 2Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa, Japan

Individuals often appear to make suboptimal behavioural choices. However, behaviour is often context-dependent. Thus, to determine whether a behaviour is truly maladaptive, it must be examined vis--vis the full range of possible behaviours. Here, we link past context to specific oviposition behaviours and their fitness consequences in Tribolium castaneum. We sampled females from various age and density contexts, allocated their eggs into optimal vs. suboptimal resource patches, and measured multiple components of offspring fitness. Then we generated full fitness landscapes for the range of observed oviposition behaviours. We find that with increasing age and experienced density, females typically produce few fast-developing offspring that are selectively favoured under resource competition. In contrast, young females oviposit such that they produce more slower-developing offspring. Thus, apparently maladaptive choices may actually reflect incomplete information about the fitness landscape. Our results highlight the importance of systematically determining the complete context-dependent fitness landscape, without which we cannot predict behavioural optimality in novel contexts.