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Geographic variation of reproductive tactics in lubber grasshoppers

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We investigate plastic and interpopulation variation of trade-offs among reproductive tactics. There is a potential three-way trade-off among timing of reproduction, somatic storage, and investment in reproduction. We tested whether this trade-off shows latitudinal interpopulation variation. We studied populations of the lubber grasshopper, Romalea microptera, from Florida (FL; lowest latitude), Louisiana (LA; intermediate latitude), and Georgia (GA; highest latitude), each tested at three diet levels. All three populations differed in their multivariate responses of the three reproductive tactics we studied. This difference across populations was due primarily to age at first reproduction, secondarily to somatic storage, and less so to clutch mass. Age at first reproduction was least in GA, intermediate in LA, and greatest in FL grasshoppers. Somatic storage was greatest in FL and LA, and least in GA grasshoppers. Clutch mass was greatest in LA and GA, and least in FL grasshoppers. Diet levels also differed in this suite of reproductive tactics, primarily due to variation in age at reproduction. In contrast to significant, independent effects of population and diet, we find no evidence that the trade-off itself varies across populations (as indicated by the non-significant interaction of population and diet level). Thus, we show that the innate allocation of resources among reproductive tactics is different across populations, but all three populations responded similarly to a range of diet levels.

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Correspondence to John D. Hatle.

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Hatle, J.D., Crowley, M.C., Andrews, A.L. et al. Geographic variation of reproductive tactics in lubber grasshoppers. Oecologia 132, 517–523 (2002).

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  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Lubber grasshoppers
  • Reaction norm
  • Latitudinal variation