Meeting Abstract

P2.56  Thursday, Jan. 5  The influence of vegetation structure and social group composition in the habitat use of a cactus bug HOLMES, K.D.*; THICKMAN, J.D.; MILLER, C.W.; University of Florida; University of Florida; University of Florida deirdre.k@ufl.edu

Habitat selection is fundamental to ecology and evolution because of its broad effects on population dynamics, natural and sexual selection, and rates of speciation. I conducted a field study of the cactus bug Chelinidea vittiger by walking random transects through areas containing prickly-pear cactus. I counted insects and compared habitat use to what would be expected by chance. Greater numbers of adults were found on larger cactus patches, suggesting such large patches were preferred. In addition, patch size and the height of surrounding vegetation predicted the social composition of groups. This research is an important step in understanding habitat selection in a cactus-feeding insect.