Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Multiple parthenoforms of Empoasca leafhoppers from Madeira Island: where are these unisexual forms coming from?

Abstract

There are controversial opinions on whether asexual reproduction is more common on islands than on the mainland. Although some authors consider that the evidences of geographical parthenogenesis support the view that asexual reproduction is more common on islands, comparative data on the modes of reproduction of insular and continental taxa confirming this statement are very limited. In this work, we report the presence of three unisexual forms and three bisexual species of the genus Empoasca (Cicadelloidea, Hemiptera, Insecta) from Madeira Island. Experimentally, the unisexual forms reproduced in the absence of males for several generations. The chromosome analysis has shown that the bisexual species differ from one another in chromosome number, and unisexual forms are apomictic and also each have different chromosome numbers. Of parthenoforms, one is triploid and two are of obscure level of ploidy, 2n or 3n. The results obtained show that for this genus unisexual forms are more common on Madeira Island than in the nearby continental areas. It is suggested that unisexual forms may be more plentiful on islands than on the mainland because if an asexual reproduction event occurs, the relaxing competition in these underexploited and enemy-free habitats may favor the establishment of new parthenogenetic lineages.