Relation between temporal persistence of host plants and wing length in leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha)


Dr V. Novotné, School of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Wales, P.O. Box 915, Cardiff CF1 3TL.



  • 1Wing form frequencies in 255 populations of 101 species of leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha) in temporary and permanent habitats were documented.
  • 2The proportion of brachypterous specimens in the leafhopper assemblages on ruderal host plants in temporary habitats (median 2%, range 0–8%) was significantly lower than that on permanent host plants in undisturbed habitats (median 22%, range 0–94%).
  • 3Leafhopper species typical of temporary habitats were either monomorphic, macropterous, or wing-dimorphic with macropterous forms prevailing in both sexes.
  • 4Among the eighty-nine species recorded in permanent habitats, forty-five species were wing dimorphic. In forty-one dimorphic species, a brachypterous form prevailed. This prevalence was found for both sexes in thirty-one species, for only females in nine species and for only males in one species.
  • 5The prevalence of brachypters in males, but not in females, found in Anoscopus flavostriatus, is probably the first such documented case in Auchenorrhyncha.
  • 6The hypothesis is proposed that in temporary habitats, density-dependent production of macropters in wing dimorphic species is an adaptation to frequent habitat deterioration caused by factors independent of the density of the species.
  • 7The predominance of brachypters in permanent habitats indicates that a density-dependent decrease in fitness usually does not offset the potential decrease in fitness connected with macroptery and dispersal. Because of this inability of leafhopper populations to decrease significantly the quality of their resources, a high population density cannot be used as a predictor of future quality of these resources, which is information essential for efficient dispersal behaviour.