Ecotope effect inTriatoma brasiliensis(Hemiptera: Reduviidae) suggests phenotypic plasticity rather than adaptation

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Triatoma brasiliensis (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) is an important vector of Chagas' disease in both sylvatic and peridomestic ecotopes. Discriminating between these populations of Triatominae has been proposed as a means of investigating re-infestation rates of human dwellings. Geometric morphometrics have been widely applied in the study of Triatominae polymorphisms at species and population levels. This study characterizes morphometric differences between sylvatic and peridomestic populations, as well as between sexes in T. brasiliensis specimens from Jaguaruana, Ceará, in northeastern Brazil. No differences in either the shape or size of the cephalic capsule were apparent between sexes or ecotopes. However, the wings showed differentiation in shape and size. Sexual dimorphism was detected, with females presenting significantly higher values and conformations. Size differentiation was also evident, with sylvatic specimens being generally larger than peridomestic examples. These results indicate that differences in the wings of T. brasiliensis may be related to the existence of phenotypic plasticity, and variations in size and shape may be associated with different ecotopes, possibly as a result of conditions in each micro-habitat, such as temperature, relative humidity, food supply and density.

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