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When mother does not know best: Contrasting host plant choice across life stages in individuals of the comma butterfly
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6379-7905
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3445-3759
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4195-8920
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Since host plant choice is often crucial for the fitness of herbivorous insects we investigated if individual variation in such decisions is consistent throughout life. In the comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album, (Nymphalidae, Nymphalini) newly hatched larvae and adult females have been found to rank hosts plants similarly, suggesting that the host plant recognition mechanisms could be preserved through metamorphosis. 

We measured preference for Urtica dioica relative to Salix cinerea when the plants were encountered by the same individuals in the two different life stages, finding no relationship between the two measurements. This was however found when we instead measured acceptance of a suboptimal host: First instar larvae were placed on the suboptimal S. cinerea, and were scored as to whether they accepted this host or if they instead moved to feed on the generally more preferred host U. dioica. The same individuals were then tested once more as ovipositing females, in a cage setup arranged so that females would encounter the low-ranked hosts S. cinerea and Betula pubescens more often than the high-ranked host U. dioica.

Individuals that chose to abandon S. cinerea as larvae differed in oviposition behaviour later in life from those that accepted this low-ranked host, but did so by laying a higher proportion eggs on the low-ranked hosts as adults. We interpret this initially unexpected result as a result of possible genetic correlation between female host-plant specificity and larval acceptance for the plant chosen by their mother: Offspring of ‘choosy’ specialist mothers have a strong tendency to remain on their original host, whereas less discriminating generalist mothers beget larvae with lower acceptance for their original plant when it is suboptimal. Ecologically, this presents a further explanation for how a generalist oviposition strategy can be sustained since larval mobility to some extent compensates for poor female choice.

Keyword [en]
insect-plant interactions, host plant choice, life-history, preference-performance correlations, personality, behavioural syndrome
National Category
Zoology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68074OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-68074DiVA: diva2:471760
Available from: 2012-01-02 Created: 2012-01-02 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.
Keyword
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
Zoology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
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)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
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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