Parallel Patterns of Morphological and Behavioral Variation among Host-Associated Populations of Two Gall Wasp Species




Egan, Scott P.
Hood, Glen R.
DeVela, Gabriel
Ott, James R.

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Public Library of Science


A powerful approach to address the general factors contributing to ecological speciation is to compare distantly related taxa that inhabit the same selective environments. In this design, similarities among taxa can elucidate general mechanisms of the process whereas differences may uncover specific factors important to the process for individual taxa. Herein, we present evidence of parallel patterns of morphological and behavioral variation among host-associated populations of two species of cynipid gall wasps, Belonocnema treatae and Disholcaspis quercusvirens, that each exhibit a life cycle intimately tied to the same two host plant environments, Quercus geminata and Q. virginiana. Across both gall-former species we find consistent differences in body size and gall morphology associated with host plant use, as well as strong differences in host plant preference, a measure of habitat isolation among populations. These consistent differences among taxa highlight the important role of host plant use in promoting reproductive isolation and morphological variation among herbivorous insect populations–a prerequisite for ecological speciation.



plants, speciation, insects, leaves, physiological parameters, animal behavior, herbivory, habitats, Biology


Egan, S. P., Hood, G. R., DeVela, G., & Ott, J. R. (2013). Parallel patterns of morphological and behavioral variation among host-associated populations of two gall wasp species. PLoS One, 8(01), e54690.


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© 2013 Egan et al.

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