Meeting Abstract

P3.165  Friday, Jan. 6  Effects of environmental variation on courtship in the harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica HELMEY-HARTMAN, W.L.*; MILLER, C.W.; University of Florida, Gainesville; University of Florida, Gainesville wlhelmey@ufl.edu

Although environmental variation is ubiquitous, few studies have examined the ways in which sexual selection varies across environments. For herbivorous insects, host plant availability is a major and persistent source of environmental variation that may affect sexual selection. This experiment was designed to determine the effects of natal and current host plant on courtship and mating behavior of the harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). This insect feeds on a variety of crops that often shift in availability throughout the year. We reared insects in separate containers with either mustard or broccoli for food. Virgin adults of similar ages were later paired in behavioral trials to include all combinations of natal plant and testing plant contexts. Behavior was analyzed to detect any effects of host plant. Observed differences may result from varying nutritional quality of the host plants or phenotypic plasticity in mate-recognition signals based upon natal or testing host plant. These differences may provide a mechanism for sympatric speciation or result in adaptive change that maximizes the success of this species in a heterogeneous environment.