An integrated analysis of hyperspectral and morphological data of cicada ovipositors revealed unexplored links to specific oviposition hosts

  • Zehai Hou
  • Haiying Zhong
  • Christian Nansen
  • Cong WeiEmail author
Original Paper


Oviposition host selection by females greatly influences the survival of insect offspring. Based on data collected from 11 cicada species, we propose a new analytical approach to examine associations between oviposition host selection (live or dead wood) and three types of quantitative data (reflectance data acquired from ovipositors, morphometric data, and types and distribution of various sensilla). The study hypothesis was that a combination of these quantitative data would provide accurate characterization of species with known oviposition hosts and also enable prediction of a species with unknown oviposition hosts. Using cluster analysis based on morphometric and types and distribution of various sensilla as explanatory variables, the 11 cicada species were clearly categorized into two groups, i.e., one group ovipositing in live twigs, and the other group ovipositing in dead twigs. Although host selection of two species with unknown ovipositional preference awaits to be confirmed by future field investigation, we used the proposed integrated functional morphology approach to predict that these two species oviposit in dead twigs. Animal ecologists and evolutionary biologists frequently face the challenge of having incomplete information about function and behavior of animals, and therefore, seek to perform functional morphological studies. The combination of cluster analysis of morphometric and reflectance data as explanatory variables described in this study may be considered of considerable relevance to this broad audience.


Cicadidae Oviposition host selection Adaptive trait Hyperspectral imaging Morphometrics Ultrastructure 



We would like to express our deep gratitude to Yunxiang Liu (Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China) for his help with specimen collection. We thank Prof. Masami Hayashi (Tokyo University of Agriculture, Atsugi, Japan) and Chong He (Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China) for providing valuable information of oviposition behavior of cicadas. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 31772505, 31572302) to C.W.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

We neither used endangered species nor were the investigated animals collected in protected areas. All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Plant Protection Resources and Pest Management, Ministry of Education, College of Plant ProtectionNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural SciencesHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of Entomology and NematologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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