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No effect of larval experience on adult host preferences in Polygonia c-album (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): on the persistence of Hopkins' host selection principle
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Department of Animal Ecology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6379-7905
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Department of Animal Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Department of Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4195-8920
2009 (English)In: Ecological Entomology, ISSN 0307-6946, Vol. 34, no 1, 50-57 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

1. The possible effect of juvenile imprinting or 'chemical legacy' on the subsequent oviposition - often called the 'Hopkins' host selection principle' - has been a controversial but recurrent theme in the literature on host-plant preference. While it appears possible in principle, experimental support for the hypothesis is equivocal. The present study points out that it is also important to consider its theoretical implications, and asks under what circumstances, if any, it should be favoured by natural selection.

2. Following this reasoning, it is predicted that host preference in the polyphagous butterfly Polygonia c-album L. (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae) should not be influenced by larval environment. This was tested by rearing larvae on three natural host plants: the high-ranked Urtica dioica and the medium-ranked Salix cinerea and Ribes uva-crispa, and exposing the naive females to oviposition choices involving the same set of plants.

3. It was found that larval host plant had no effect on oviposition decisions of the adult female. Hence, the Hopkins' host selection principle does not seem to be applicable in this species.

4. Based on recent insights on how accuracy of environmental versus genetic information should affect the control of developmental switches, the conditions that could favour the use of juvenile cues in oviposition decisions are discussed. Although the Hopkins' host selection hypothesis cannot be completely ruled out, we argue that the circumstances required for it to be adaptive are so specific that it should not be invoked as a general hypothesis for host selection in plant-feeding insects.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Blackwell , 2009. Vol. 34, no 1, 50-57 p.
Keyword [en]
Chemical legacy, environmental cues, genetic cues, host-plant preference, Polygonia c-album, phenotypic plasticity, pre-imaginal conditioning, specialisation
National Category
Ecology Ecology Developmental Biology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-28284DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2008.01041.xISI: 000262468000007OAI: diva2:223433
Available from: 2009-06-12 Created: 2009-06-12 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Life-history consequenses of host plant choice in the comma butterfly
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Life-history consequenses of host plant choice in the comma butterfly
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There is much evidence that herbivory is a key innovation for the tremendous success of insect. In this thesis I have investigated different aspects of host plant utilization and phenotypic plasticity using the polyphagous comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album. Even though external conditions affect a phenotypic plastic response, the outcome is often influenced by a genetic background which may differ among populations. In Paper I we suspected the genetic background to seasonal polymorphism to be X-linked. However, results from interspecific hybridization between two populations suggested that diapause response is instead inherited in a mainly autosomally additive fashion, with a possible influence of sexual antagonism on males. In Paper II we showed that female oviposition preference is not a plastic response influenced by larval experience, but has a genetic background coupled to host plant suitability. Further, there is a strong individual correlation between larval host plant acceptance and female host plant specificity (Paper III). We believe this to be a larval feed-back genetically linked to female host specificity: offspring to ‘choosy’ specialist mothers benefit by remaining on the original host while offspring to less discriminating generalist mothers should risk inspecting the surroundings, thus compensating for potential poor female choice. In the larval mid-gut, genes are differentially expressed depending on host plant diet (Paper IV). Therefore, we expected to find fitness consequences of host plant switch. However, although growth rate was affected in a few treatments, larvae were generally surprisingly good at adjusting to new diets (Paper V). To conclude, host plant choice in both female and larval life stage is connected to performance. Combined with increased understanding about the plastic response to diet intake and seasonal polymorphism we have gained further insights into the processes of local adaptations and speciation in the Lepidoptera.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2012. 36 p.
Nymphalidae, voltinism, larval performance, Hopkins’ Host Selection Principle, GeneFishing, real-time qPCR, Urtica dioica, Salix cinerea, Betula pubescens, Ulmus glabra, Ribes uva-crispa.
National Category
Research subject
Animal Ecology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68076 (URN)978-91-7447-432-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-02-10, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted Manuscript; Paper 5: ManuscriptAvailable from: 2012-01-19 Created: 2012-01-02 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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