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Data from: Lack of evolution in a leaf beetle that lives on two contrasting host plants

Cite this dataset

Gould, Katherine; Wilson, Paul (2016). Data from: Lack of evolution in a leaf beetle that lives on two contrasting host plants [Dataset]. Dryad.


The interactions between plant-eating insects and their hosts have shaped both the insects and the plants, driving evolution of plant defenses and insect specialization. The leaf beetle Trirhabda eriodictyonis (Chrysomelidae) lives on two shrubs with differing defenses: Eriodictyon crassifolium has hairy leaves, whereas E. trichocalyx has resinous leaves. We tested whether these beetles have differentiated onto the two host plants, and if not, whether the beetles prefer the better host plant and prefer mates who are from that host plant. In feeding tests, adult beetles strongly preferred eating E. trichocalyx regardless of which host they came from. In addition, females laid more eggs if they ate E. trichocalyx than E. crassifolium. So, E. trichocalyx is generally the better host. However, beetle mate preference was not in line with food choice. Males did not prefer to mate with females from E. trichocalyx. Females from E. crassifolium did prefer males from E. trichocalyx over males from E. crassifolium, but did not lay more eggs as a result of these matings. We conclude that the beetle populations we studied have not differentiated based on their host plants and may not have even adapted to the better host. Although to humans these host plant defenses differ dramatically, signs that they have caused evolution in the beetles are lacking. The case of T. eriodictyonis stands counter to many other studies that have seen the differentiation of ecotypes and/or adaptive coordination of an herbivore's life cycle based on host plant differences.

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Los Angeles County
Angeles National Forest
Los Angeles