0950 The relationship between color pattern and feeding behavior in three species of leafhoppers

Tuesday, December 15, 2009: 2:47 PM
Room 103, First Floor (Convention Center)
Arash Rashed , Texas Agrilife esearch and Extension Center, Texas A&M University, West Amarillo, TX
Joyce Kwan , Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Rodrigo Almeida , Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA
Some evolved adaptations, such as protective coloration, also require associated behaviors to optimize their adaptive function. For example, insects with a great degree of background matching are expected to be restricted to certain habitats to reduce predation risk. Leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) show great inter- and intra-specific variation in their color patterns. If coloration is an adaptive strategy to avoid predation in this group of insects, then cryptically colored species should tend to stay on a background that matches their coloration. To test this prediction, we investigated background choice in three species of leafhoppers using both natural plants and artificial backgrounds. Our results showed that the green-colored Graphocephala atropunctata preferred green backgrounds significantly more compared to brown backgrounds. Although the brown-colored Homalodisca vitripennis also showed a tendency to choose brown backgrounds, the difference between background visitations was not statistically significant. There was no evidence that the phloem sap-feeding Euscelidius variegatus showed preference for either green or brown background. Our findings provide evidence for background matching behavior in some species and also suggests that coloration could be a predictor for movement pattern and habitat use. Results will be further discussed in a phylogenetic context.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.44762