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Preference-performance relationship is modulated by diet breadth

Charlery De La Masseliere M., Facon B., Hafsi A., Duyck P.F.. 2017. Portland : ESA, 1 p.. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. 102, 2017-08-06/2017-08-11, La Nouvelle-Orléans (Etats-Unis).

In most phytophagous insects, larvae are often less mobile than adults and the success of its development depends on the quality of the plant chosen by the adult. Thus adult oviposition preference is expected to be correlated to larval development (performance) to maximize its fitness with adults choosing plants were larvae have an optimal development. However, a correlation between adult preference and larval performance is not always found in empirical studies. Most of reasons suggested to explain this mismatch are based on the realized niche of insects but only few based on the fundamental niche were highlighted. One of them is the degree of specialization with species having a restricted diet with a stronger relationship between the preference and the performance. The aim of this study was to test empirically whether the relationship between female preference and larval performance was the same for specialist and generalist species. We studied fruit fly species (Diptera: Tephritidae) present in La Réunion including four generalist (C. catoirii, C. capitata, C. quilicii and B. zonata) and two specialist species (D. demmerezi and Z. cucurbitae) feeding mostly on Cucurbitaceae plants. We tested, in laboratory, the female fecundity on 29 host plants belonging to 15 families and evaluated its relationship with larval survival for specialists and generalists. Results/conclusions: (200 words): Our study showed that specialist species laid eggs on fewer host plants, mostly belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, with rejecting many of them than generalists that laid eggs in all fruits. This female preference found in specialists was strongly correlated with larval performance contrary to generalists for which no correlations between preference and performance were found. Being selective is useful to specialists that are adapted to survive mostly on plants belonging to Cucurbitaceae. However, choosing the best plant on which to lay eggs has a cost in term of time.

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