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The Nature and Possible Functions of Luminescence in Coleoptera Larvae

John Sivinski
The Coleopterists Bulletin
Vol. 35, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 167-179
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4007935
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Nature and Possible Functions of Luminescence in Coleoptera Larvae
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Abstract

Continuous aposematic displays can attract the attention of naive or unrepulsable predators to individuals that would otherwise escape notice. In some cases, they may also be metabolically expensive to produce. Warnings emitted when the likelihood of encountering and discouraging predators is high minimizes these disadvantages. Bioluminescence in juvenile Coleoptera may be a warning signal ("coloration") whose presence and intensity is under larval control. Light organ locations and the conditions that elicit glows suggest that luminescence is directed at interspecific receivers and that emission and risk are correlated. The perception by a larva of another facultative aposematic display increases the probability that an undetected predator is nearby. This may account for numerous observations of lampyrid larvae glowing in response to the lights of other larvae and adults. There are several intraspecific contexts for larval luminescence. Self-illumination could explain the correlation of two uncommon phenomena, red lights and luminous organs on the head. Glows have been proposed to be spacing or aggregation signals. The timing and social context of luminescence is, in many cases, inconsistent with such an interpretation.

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