The role of ecological availability and host plant characteristics in determining host use by the bogus yucca moth Prodoxus decipiens

David M. Althoff, Kelly A. Fox, Tal Frieden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

1. Specialisation in host plant use is strongly correlated with speciation in many plant-feeding insects. Specialised taxa, however, could be restricted in host range due to limits in ecological availability of host plant species rather than trade-offs in using alternate host species. 2. Moths in the genus Prodoxus are extreme specialists on Yucca and speciation is closely tied to host plant shifts. However, many Yucca ranges are allopatric. This study examined whether the bogus yucca moth Prodoxus decipiens is limited in host range because of biogeographic factors or due to differences in the characteristics of host plant species. 3. In a common garden, local P. decipiens moths that use Yucca filamentosa were exposed to individuals of five Yucca species, two that are known hosts of P. decipiens in other parts of its range and three that are used by its sister species, Prodoxus quinquepunctellus. 4. Local moths were attracted to flowers of all Yucca species and females attempted oviposition in the flowering stalks of all species.However, larvae successfully completed development to diapause in only one of the five host plant species. Larval development on non-natal Yucca species was significantly reduced compared with the local host. 5. The results suggest that differences in host plant characteristics among Yucca species would result in strong natural selection during a host shift. Thus, specialisation in host plant use is probably due to trade-offs involved with using novel host plant species as well as ecological availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-626
Number of pages7
JournalEcological Entomology
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Host range
  • Larval performance
  • Specialisation
  • Trade-offs
  • Yucca moths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science

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