Date of this Version
Virtually no published information exists on insect endocrine traits in natural populations, which limits our understanding of endocrine microevolution. We characterized the hemolymph titers of juvenile hormone (JH) and ecdysteroids (ECDs), two key insect hormones, in field-collected short-winged, flightless (SW) and long-winged, flight-capable (LW(f)) morphs of the cricket Gryllus firmus. The JH titer exhibited a dramatic circadian rhythm in the LW(f) morph but was temporally constant in the flightless SW morph. This pattern was consistent in each of three years; in young, middle-aged, and older G. firmus; and in three other cricket species. The ECD titer was considerably higher in SW than in LW(f) females but did not exhibit temporal variation in ally morph and did not differ between male morphs. JH and ECD may control different aspects of the morph-specific trade-off between nocturnal dispersal and reproduction. Results confirm and extend laboratory studies on young female G. firmus; most, but not all, important aspects of morph-specific differences in JH and ECD titers call be extrapolated from field to laboratory environments and vice versa. Hormone titers in Gryllus are more complex than those proposed in evolutionary endocrine models. Directly measuring hormone titer variation remains a fundamentally important task of insect evolutionary endocrinology.