ABS 2022
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Multiple plastic traits predict assortative mating by developmental environment
Kasey D. Fowler-Finn1, Amy Runck2, T. William Shoenberger1. 1Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States; 2Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, United States

Assortative mating is widespread in nature and can affect population genetic structure, particularly when assortment happens across ecological niches. We explore the potential for developmental plasticity to generate assortative mating by ecological niche in a host plant generalist sap-feeding insect, Entylia carinata. We find population genomic structure according to the plant species on which it feeds. We reared juveniles from two plant species in a 2x2 design in the greenhouse. We tested plasticity in habitat preference, male mating signals, and insect phenology. We found no costs of switching host plant species on development, maturation or survival. However, we find induced habitat preference for the species on which the insects prefer to feed and sexually signal, suggesting plasticity could act as a ’magic trait.’ We also found plasticity in male sexual signals and phenological shifts across developmental plant species, supporting two additional mechanisms by which developmental plasticity could generate assortative mating by developmental host plant species. Future work will delve into the relationship between plasticity, assortative mating, and population genomic structure.