Premating isolation is determined by larval rearing substrates in cactophilic Drosophila mojavensis. IX. Host plant and population specific epicuticular hydrocarbon expression influences mate choice and sexual selection

Authors

  • J. A. Havens,

    Corresponding authorCurrent affiliation:
    1. Department of Biology, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA
    • Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
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  • W. J. Etges

    1. Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
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Correspondence: Julie A. Havens, Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA. Tel.: +1 479 575 6358; fax: +1 479 575 4010;

e-mail: julie.havens@armstrong.edu

Abstract

Sexual signals in cactophilic Drosophila mojavensis include cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), contact pheromones that mediate female discrimination of males during courtship. CHCs, along with male courtship songs, cause premating isolation between diverged populations, and are influenced by genotype × environment interactions caused by different host cacti. CHC profiles of mated and unmated adult flies from a Baja California and a mainland Mexico population of D. mojavensis reared on two host cacti were assayed to test the hypothesis that male CHCs mediate within-population female discrimination of males. In multiple choice courtship trials, mated and unmated males differed in CHC profiles, indicating that females prefer males with particular blends of CHCs. Mated and unmated females significantly differed in CHC profiles as well. Adults in the choice trials had CHC profiles that were significantly different from those in pair-mated adults from no-choice trials revealing an influence of sexual selection. Females preferred different male CHC blends in each population, but the influence of host cactus on CHC variation was significant only in the mainland population indicating population-specific plasticity in CHCs. Different groups of CHCs mediated female choice-based sexual selection in each population suggesting that geographical and ecological divergence has the potential to promote divergence in mate communication systems.

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