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The sooty beech scale insect (Ultracoelostoma sp.) (Hemiptera: Margarodidae) exhibits a highly patchy distribution at local and regional scales. A major factor driving this common distributional phenomenon in other phloem-feeding insects is aggregation and local adaptation. The aim of this study was to determine if Ultracoelostoma was locally adapted to its natal host trees, by contrasting the establishment rates of first instar “crawlers” in reciprocal transfers to natal versus novel hosts. Although there are two closely-related species of sooty beech scale insect, the morphological characters of crawlers in this study were intermediate between those of U. assimile and U. brittini. However, all of the voucher specimens examined had consistent morphology, indicating that they belong to one species which we refer to as Ultracoelostoma sp. Reciprocal transfers of crawlers were carried out between individual red beech (Nothofagus fusca), as well as between mountain beech (N. solandri) and red beech trees, to ascertain if insects had become locally adapted to their individual host tree or to host species. In total, 480 crawlers were placed in enclosures on their natal and novel host trees, of which only 32 (6.7 %) became established. No evidence for local adaptation, either to individual host trees or to host tree species, was found. There was also no difference in crawler establishment between natal and novel hosts. However, crawlers originating from mountain beech trees had significantly higher establishment rates on both natal mountain beech and novel red beech hosts, than did crawlers originating from red beech trees. The superior ability of mountain beech crawlers to become established, even on novel red beech trees, suggests that scale insects on mountain beech trees have higher individual fitness (possibly due to maternal effects mediated by differences in host nutritional quality, defensive compounds or growth rate). This increased fitness may result in crawlers being better provisioned to search for appropriate establishment sites. The results of this study indicate that beech scale insects perform better on mountain beech at this site, although crawlers did not preferentially establish on mountain beech.