Monday, 15 November 2004 - 10:06 AM

Evolution of aposematic warning colors in parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)

Jason W. Leathers,, Oregon State University, Deptartment of Zoology, 3029 Cordley Hall, Corvallis, OR

Hymenoptera, with their painful stings, bites, and noxious chemical defenses, are the most frequently mimicked organisms in the world. Natural selection has yielded an assortment of aposematic warning color patterns to advertise these properties, and these patterns are copied by members of nearly every other order of winged insect. Such aposematic color patters are found in parasitic wasps of the Neotropical Compsobracon group (Braconidae: Braconinae). This group contains 26 described species in seven genera: Compsobracon Ashmead, Calobracon Szépligeti, Cyclaulax Cameron, Compsobraconoides Quicke, Cyclaulacidea Quicke and Delobel, Gracilibracon Quicke, and Sacirema Quicke. Many members of this group have color patterns similar to several thousand species of Braconidae, Ichneumonidae, sawflies, assassin bugs, flies, moths, and beetles. One explanation for this observation is that the members of the complex and their colors are generated by multiple cospeciation events resulting in the constituent genera having isomorphic phylogenetic trees. An alternative explanation is that the organisms have colonized existing color pattern niches independently and do not have topologically similar phylogenetic histories. In order to test the hypothesis that these are the result of cospeciation events the patterns will be described and mapped onto a phylogenetic tree. If clades are found to have isomorphic topologies; evidence will suggest cospeciation. However, if clades are not found to have similar topologies, evidence will suggest independent colonization of color pattern niches.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Braconidae Compsobracon urichii
Species 2: Hymenoptera Braconidae Cyclaulax grandiceps
Species 3: Hymenoptera Braconidae Gracilibracon gracilescens
Keywords: coevolution

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