Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 229–235 | Cite as

Natural selection in the tropical treehopper Alchisme grossa (Hemiptera: Membracidae) on two sympatric host-plants

  • Daniel Torrico-Bazoberry
  • Carlos F. PintoEmail author
  • Luis Flores-Prado
  • Francisco E. Fontúrbel
  • Hermann M. Niemeyer
Original Paper


The pronotum is the most distinctive and representative structure in treehoppers. Although several functions have been proposed for this structure, its involvement in fitness has not been formally evaluated. Given the high degree of maternal investment exhibited by the subsocial membracid Alchisme grossa (Hoplophorionini), the pronotum has been suggested as a shield for offspring protection. We performed selection gradient analyses on A. grossa in order to evaluate how natural selection is acting upon two traits associated with this structure considering three different fitness proxies: (1) number of eggs, (2) the ratio between the number of first-stage nymphs and the number of eggs (early survival), and (3) the number of third-stage nymphs (late survival). Since A. grossa feeds, oviposits and mates on two alternative host-plants (Brugmansia suaveolens and Solanum ursinum, both Solanaceae), we also evaluated and compared selection gradients between these host-plants. We found positive linear selection acting upon pronotum length considering the number of eggs and the late survival fitness proxies and positive linear selection acting on the distance between the suprahumeral horns considering the early survival proxy on females ovipositing on both host-plants. These results highlight the importance of the pronotum in treehoppers females’ fitness and suggest that maternal care appears to have a greater importance in the way that natural selection is operating than the host-plant where oviposition occurs.


Bolivia Phenotypic selection Pronotum Selection gradients Yungas 



Liliana Caceres and Alejandro Coca provided field support. Comments of Mariano Ordano, Santiago Benitez and two anonymous reviewers improved an earlier version of the manuscript. LANBIO (Latin American Network for Research on Bioactive Natural Compounds) and International Foundation for Science (IFS), who supported and funded this work, and INTEGRA S.A. authorized the work at Incachaca and provided housing facilities.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Torrico-Bazoberry
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carlos F. Pinto
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Luis Flores-Prado
    • 4
  • Francisco E. Fontúrbel
    • 5
  • Hermann M. Niemeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Química Ecológica, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ecología Química, Facultad de Ciencias y TecnologíaUniversidad Mayor de San SimónCochabambaBolivia
  3. 3.Universidad Mayor Real y Pontificia de San Francisco Xavier de ChuquisacaSucreBolivia
  4. 4.Instituto de EntomologíaUniversidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la EducaciónSantiagoChile
  5. 5.Laboratorio de Ecología Evolutiva, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile

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