Assessment of Genetic Variation in the Presence of Maternal or Paternal Effects in Herbivorous Insects

  • MaryCarol Rossiter


A long-standing issue in evolutionary ecology has been the evolution of diet breadth in herbivorous insects. Because the history of an insect species’ ecological circumstance is built into current patterns of host-plant utilization, we have attempted to speculate how and why insects eat particular host-plant species using phylogenetic, geographic, and life history relationships among extant insect taxa. These approaches have produced some robust generalizations about host-use patterns among herbivores (e.g., coevolutionary anus race) but provide less information on the microevolutionary processes involved (but see Mitter and Futuyma 1983). Investigations of the relationship between preference and performance (Futuyma 1983; Singer et al. 1989), the role of nonnutritional factors in host use (Rossiter 1987; Bernays and Graham 1988; Hunter 1992), and the physiology of host utilization (e.g., Martin et al. 1987) have permitted inferential but speculative conclusions about the microevolution of plant-insect relationships. About 15 years ago, a new approach to the empirical study of herbivore evolution was taken up by Rausher (1984) and Via (1984) in response to the work of quantitative biologists who extended the theoretical genetic basis of quantitative genetics, developed by Fisher (1918), Wright (1921), and Haldane (1932) for the improvement of crops through artificial selection, to the study of evolutionary change in wild populations under natural selection (e.g., Lande 1979; Lande and Arnold 1983). Their quantitative genetics (QG) approach was particularly appealing for its ability to make estimates of genetic variation in insect populations under variable host environments. This foundation provided a general experimental approach for the study of microevolutionary aspects of the evolution of host utilization.


Maternal Effect Gypsy Moth Additive Genetic Variation Parental Effect Genetic Covariance 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • MaryCarol Rossiter
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensGreece

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