Event Title

A method for close observation of hybrid pairings between species in the Enchenopa binotata complex of treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracidae)

Mentor 1

Rafael Rodriguez

Mentor 2

Bretta Speck

Start Date

16-4-2021 12:00 AM

Description

Hybridization has many impacts on the process of speciation. Speciation generally involves divergence in resource use and in mating signals and mate preferences, all generating reproductive isolation. However, before speciation is complete, hybridization can reverse the process and fuse diverging populations. Thus, whether and how hybridization occurs between recently diverged species is a key question. This study aims to test whether viable hybrid offspring are produced when members of the E. binotata species that diverged ca. 10,000 years ago come into close proximity. This is a difficult question to ask with most plant-feeding insects, because they are often highly host-plant specialized. However, in Wisconsin there are two members of the E. binotata complex that use the same host plant, Viburnum lentago. These two species can be distinguished by color and pattern as nymphs or by the frequency of mating signals as adults. We set out to create a controlled mechanism to provide ample room for reproduction, protection, and the ability to closely observe mating pairs. We began construction by testing materials and designs to determine what kind of capsule would best fit the plants, allow access to the mating pairs, and not hinder the survival or observation of either plant or treehopper. Our final product makes use of clear deli cups, mesh fabric, superglue, and rubber bands that are assembled around a stem of potted host plant exemplar, into which experimental pairs are placed. This simple and inexpensive design allows for easy replication and maintenance. Constructing these reusable capsules will aid the Rodriguez lab with future experiments and has the potential for expansion into other research projects.

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Apr 16th, 12:00 AM

A method for close observation of hybrid pairings between species in the Enchenopa binotata complex of treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracidae)

Hybridization has many impacts on the process of speciation. Speciation generally involves divergence in resource use and in mating signals and mate preferences, all generating reproductive isolation. However, before speciation is complete, hybridization can reverse the process and fuse diverging populations. Thus, whether and how hybridization occurs between recently diverged species is a key question. This study aims to test whether viable hybrid offspring are produced when members of the E. binotata species that diverged ca. 10,000 years ago come into close proximity. This is a difficult question to ask with most plant-feeding insects, because they are often highly host-plant specialized. However, in Wisconsin there are two members of the E. binotata complex that use the same host plant, Viburnum lentago. These two species can be distinguished by color and pattern as nymphs or by the frequency of mating signals as adults. We set out to create a controlled mechanism to provide ample room for reproduction, protection, and the ability to closely observe mating pairs. We began construction by testing materials and designs to determine what kind of capsule would best fit the plants, allow access to the mating pairs, and not hinder the survival or observation of either plant or treehopper. Our final product makes use of clear deli cups, mesh fabric, superglue, and rubber bands that are assembled around a stem of potted host plant exemplar, into which experimental pairs are placed. This simple and inexpensive design allows for easy replication and maintenance. Constructing these reusable capsules will aid the Rodriguez lab with future experiments and has the potential for expansion into other research projects.