Larval competition in weevils <i>Revena rubiginosa</i> (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) preying on seeds of the palm <i>Syagrus romanzoffiana</i> (Arecaceae)
Inter- and intraspecific local resource competition may lead to the selection of specific adaptive individual characteristics to overcome interference competition. A highly selective scenario is predictable for interference competition among seed preying weevil larvae that live in and feed upon a single host seed. This scenario is found in S yagrus romanzoffiana palm seeds which are predated by Revena rubiginosa (Curculionidae) larvae. Although multiple infestation of one seed by weevil larvae can occur, invariably only one individual survives and develops in each host seed. A strong competition between the first instar larvae in a restricted window of host fruit development stages leads to physical interactions of conspecifics by ovicide or direct fighting using falcate mandibles. The occurrence of this type of mandible is synchronized with fruit development and restricted to instars with probable competition, as infestation occurs only while the endocarp is soft. Only after lignification of the endocarp the larva changes into the next instar. Mandibles of subsequent instars differ markedly from those of the first instar. The new mandibles can scrape the solid endosperm but are unable to perforate and kill conspecifics. These findings give strong evidence for the selective pressure of intraspecific competition, where special behaviour, mandible morphology and synchronization of its changes with the seed development contribute to individual benefit that involves the killing of conspecifics, since one host seed can only maintain a single larva throughout its complete development.