The evolution of dispersal polymorphisms in insects: The influence of habitats, host plants and mates

  • Robert F. Denno
Special Issue Dispersal Polymorphism of Insects: Its Adaptation and Evolution Part 1


Wing-dimorphic, delphacid planthoppers were used to test hypotheses concerning the effects of habitat persistence and architectural complexity on the occurrence of dispersal. For reasons concerning both the durational stability of the habitat and the reduced availability of mates, selection has favored high levels of dispersal in species occupying temporary habitats. Flightlessness predominates in species occupying persistent habitats, and is promoted by a phenotypic trade-off between reproductive success and flight capability. Wings are retained in tree-inhabiting species, probably for reasons concerning the more effective negotiation of three-dimensional habitats. In contrast, flightlessness is characteristic of those species inhabiting low profile host plants. For several delphacid genera, migratory species are larger than their sedentary congeners. Because body size and fecundity are positively related in planthoppers, the large body size observed in migratory taxa may result from selection for increased fecundity in colonizing species.

Key words

dispersal habitat persistence host plant architecture life history evolution wing polymorphism 

Copyright information

© Society of Population Ecology 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert F. Denno
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkU.S.A.

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