Morphological variation tracks environmental gradients in an agricultural pest, Phaulacridium vittatum (Orthoptera: Acrididae)

Sonu Yadav, Adam J. Stow, Rebecca M. B. Harris, Rachael Y. Dudaniec

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    15 Citations (Scopus)
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    Invertebrate pests often show high morphological variation and wide environmental tolerances. Knowledge of how phenotypic variation is associated with environmental heterogeneity can elucidate the processes underpinning these patterns. Here we examine morphological variation and relative abundance along environmental gradients in a widespread agricultural pest, native to Australia, the wingless grasshopper Phaulacridium vittatum (Sjöstedt). We test for correlations between body size, wing presence, and stripe polymorphism with environmental variables. Using multiple regression and mixed-effects modeling, body size and stripe polymorphism were positively associated with solar radiation, and wing presence was positively associated with foliage projective cover (FPC). There were no associations between body size or morphological traits with relative abundance. However, relative abundance was positively associated with latitude, soil moisture, and wind speed, but was negatively associated with FPC. Therefore, sites with low relative abundance and high forest cover were more likely to contain winged individuals. Overall, our results suggest that environmental and climatic conditions strongly influence the relative abundance and the distribution of morphotypes in P. vittatum, which is likely to affect dispersal and fitness in different landscapes. This knowledge is useful for informing how environmental change might influence the future spread and impact of this agricultural pest.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number13
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of insect science (Online)
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • wingless grasshopper
    • Phaulacridium vittatum
    • agricultural pest
    • relative abundance
    • morphological variation


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