Developmental stage-dependent response and preference for host plant quality in an insect herbivore

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/304414

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Salgado , A L & Saastamoinen , M 2019 , ' Developmental stage-dependent response and preference for host plant quality in an insect herbivore ' , Animal Behaviour , vol. 150 , pp. 27-38 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.01.018

Title: Developmental stage-dependent response and preference for host plant quality in an insect herbivore
Author: Salgado, Ana L.; Saastamoinen, Marjo
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Research Centre for Ecological Change
University of Helsinki, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Date: 2019-04
Language: eng
Number of pages: 12
Belongs to series: Animal Behaviour
ISSN: 0003-3472
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/304414
Abstract: Larval-derived nutritional reserves are essential in shaping insects' adult fitness. Early larval instars of many Lepidopteran species are often sessile, and the conditions experienced by these larvae are often highly dependent on the mother's oviposition choice. Later larval stages are more mobile and therefore can choose their food whenever alternatives are available. We tested how feeding on a drought-exposed host plant impacts life history in an insect herbivore, and whether the observed responses depended on developmental stage. We used drought to alter host plant quality of the ribwort plantain, Plantago lanceolata, and assessed whether host plant preference of postdiapause larvae and adult females increased their own or their offspring's performance, respectively, in the Glanville fritillary butterfly, Melitaea cinxia. Larval response to drought-exposed host plants varied with developmental stage: early larval stages (prediapause) had decreased survival and body mass on drought-exposed plants, while later larval stages (postdiapause) developed faster, weighed more and had a higher growth rate on the drought-exposed plants. Postdiapause larvae also showed a preference for drought-exposed host plants, i.e. those that increased their performance, but only when fed on well-watered host plants. Adult females, on the other hand, showed an oviposition preference for well-watered plants, hence matching the performance of their prediapause but not their postdiapause offspring. Our results highlight how variation in environmental conditions generates stage-specific responses in insects. Individuals fine-tune their own or their offspring's diet by behavioural adjustments when variation in host plant quality is available.
Subject: butterfly
developmental stress
drought stress
food choice
oviposition choice
preference–performance hypothesis
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
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