Dispersion capacity of Triatoma sherlocki, Triatoma juazeirensis and laboratory-bred hybrids
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Flight dispersion is recognized as one of the most important mechanisms for triatomine house infestation. Triatoma sherlocki and T. juazeirensis are closely related species that occur within the same ecotope and their possible reproductive boundaries are unknown. T. sherlocki has shorter wings than T. juazeirensis: a characteristic that possibly implies in reduced flight dispersion, however, this species has been found to invade and colonize homes in Bahia, Brazil. Here, we tested the flight potential of T. sherlocki, compared to that of T. juazeirensis and laboratory-bred hybrids. insects were kept in an apparatus designed to distinguish flyers from nonflyers. Fifty-one and 53% of T. juazeirensis and hybrids were flyers respectively, whereas no T. sherlocki were recorded to fly. Morphometric analysis of the main structures associated with the locomotor abilities showed that hybrids exhibited intermediate size for most of characters. The width of pronotum of both hybrids and T. juazeirensis was significantly larger than T. sherlocki. We suggested that lack of flight ability of T. sherlocki is possibly a result of reduced wing size and distinct shape, combined with undeveloped flight muscles in a shorter thoracic box. The mobility of T. sherlocki might be compensated by its significantly longer legs, and may possibly increase its ability to invade human dwellings by active dispersion. What is more, this study showed that hybrids between T. sherloki and T. juazeirensis have intermediate morphological characters that may give them higher fitness than their parents, and thus may advance the process of house infestation by either fight or walking in case of an eventual natural hybridization. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.