Factors that influence thysanopteran wing diphenism are not well known. In these studies, the impact of food quality, mediated through nitrogen addition, and conspecific density was explored on the wing diphenism of an herbivorous thrips species (Anaphothrips obscurus Müller) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). In the first study, nitrogen was added to timothy grass (Phleum pretense L.) (Poales: Poaceae) transplants, and naturally occurring thrips populations were caged on the plants. Thrips abundance and foliar nutrients were assessed every 2 wk. A separate factorial experiment in growth chambers explored the impact of both plant nitrogen addition and thrips abundance on wing diphenism. Thrips density was manipulated by adding either 3 or 40 thrips to potted and caged timothy. Thrips abundance and foliar nutrients were measured 58 d after treatment placement. Plant quality directly affected thrips wing diphenism independent of thrips density in both experiments. Near the end of the field cage experiment, density may have indirectly impacted wing diphenism. In both experiments, plant quality and thrips density interacted to affect thrips population abundance. Plant quality alone can affect thrips wing diphenism, but it remains unclear whether density alone can affect thrips wing diphenism. This is a unique and understudied system that will be useful to examine generalized theories on the negative interaction between reproduction and dispersal.
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