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Data from: Insect mating signal and mate preference phenotypes covary among host plant genotypes


Rebar, Darren; Rodriguez, Rafael Lucas (2015), Data from: Insect mating signal and mate preference phenotypes covary among host plant genotypes, Dryad, Dataset,


Sexual selection acting on small initial differences in mating signals and mate preferences can enhance signal-preference co-divergence and reproductive isolation during speciation. However, the origin of initial differences in sexual traits remains unclear. We asked whether biotic environments, a source of variation in sexual traits, may provide a general solution to this problem. Specifically, we asked whether genetic variation in biotic environments provided by host plants can result in signal-preference phenotypic covariance in a host-specific, plant-feeding insect. We used a member of the Enchenopa binotata species complex of treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracidae) to assess patterns of variation in male mating signals and female mate preferences induced by genetic variation in host plants. We employed a novel implementation of a quantitative genetics method, rearing field-collected treehoppers on a sample of naturally-occurring replicated host plant clone lines. We found remarkably high signal-preference covariance among host plant genotypes. Thus, genetic variation in biotic environments influences the sexual phenotypes of organisms living on those environment in a way that promotes assortative mating among environments. This consequence arises from conditions likely to be common in nature (phenotypic plasticity and variation in biotic environments). It therefore offers a general answer to how divergent sexual selection may begin.

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