Host Plant Specialization Driven by Sexual Selection

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Host Plant Specialization Driven by Sexual Selection

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Title: Host Plant Specialization Driven by Sexual Selection
Author: Quental, Tiago; Pierce, Naomi; Paten, Manus

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Citation: Quental, Tiago B., Manus M. Paten, and Naomi E. Pierce. 2007. Host Plant Specialization Driven by Sexual Selection. American Naturalist 169(6): 830-836.
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Abstract: We propose a new mechanism based on sexual selection to explain the evolution of diet breadth in insects. More specifically,
we show that mate choice in females for certain diet-derived male pheromones can be exploited by maternal effect genes that preferentially place offspring on a specific host plant, resulting in specialization.
Our analytical model also suggests that the process is more likely to occur with species that show male-congregating mating
strategies, such as lekking and hilltopping. The model offers a new explanation for the similarity between the composition of male lepidopteran pheromones and the chemistry of their host plants and also suggests a novel mechanism of host plant shift. This is the first time that sexual selection has been proposed to drive host plant specialization and the first time that a mechanism with selection acting solely on the adult stage has been shown to be capable of determining larval feeding habits.
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