Reproductive cost of flight capability: a comparison of life history traits in wing dimorphic planthoppers


Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, U. S. A


Abstract. 1. Reproductive costs associated with flight capability were evaluated in the wing dimorphic planthopper, Prokelisia dolus Wilson, by comparing the life history of traits of winged (macropterous) and flightless (brachypterous) females under controlled laboratory conditions.

2. Macropters with large thoraces and fully developed wings maintain a greater investment in flight apparatus than brachypters with small thoraces and reduced wings.

3. Associated with greater flight capability in the macropter of P.dolus are shorter adult life, decreased total fecundity, and delayed age at first reproduction compared to brachypterous females.

4. Under field conditions where mortality is high, the difference in realized fecundity between the two wing forms living on similar resources is further exaggerated with the brachypter having the greater advantage.

5. When the life history traits of the wing forms of P. dolus are compared with traits for nine other species of planthoppers, two similarities emerge. First, the preoviposition period of the macropterous wing form is always longer than that for the brachypter resulting in a reproductive delay. Second, most studies show that macropters are less fecund than brachypters.

6. There is no general tendency among planthopper species for macropterous adults to live fewer days or develop more slowly as nymphs compared to their flightless counterparts.

7. The reproductive delay and reduced fecundity of the volent wing form of planthoppers supports the notion that flight capability is costly and that phenotypic trade-offs between flight and reproduction exist.