Nice one! :-)
As far as I can see there is nothing a-priori which would make these
two hypotheses mutually exclusive; one 'cause' is predator related, the
other is resource related.
I await with interest, but not bated breath, for an ecologist to tell
us of any empirical evidence supporting or refuting either.
Of equal interest is the question of how the creatures keep count of
the passing years and 'know' when their species's lucky number has come
up! Presumably *something* grows a bit with each passing year and
reaches a threshold size/shape/consentration at the right time.
Alternatively something is formed in the first year, which could be the
overall size/volume of the grub or the total amount of stored energy,
and this thing or substance decreases with each passing year so that
emergence is triggered by that key feature or substance reaching its
minimum amount needed for survival in the next life stage.
Upon reflection I think the latter mechanism is more likely. I can see
more easily how it could evolve from a system under a selfective
pressure which extended the dormancy period but originally allowed a
significant spread of the dormancy period over several years.
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