Divergence between populations adapting to different environments may be facilitated when the populations differ in their sexual traits. We tested whether colonizing a novel environment may, through phenotypic plasticity, change sexual traits in a way that could alter the dynamics of sexual selection. This hypothesis has two components: changes in mean phenotypes across environments, and changes in the genetic background of the phenotypes that are produced—or genotype × environment interaction (G × E). We simulated colonization of a novel environment and tested its effect on the mating signals of a member of the Enchenopa binotata species complex of treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracidae), a clade that has diverged in a process involving host plant shifts and signal diversification. We found substantial genetic variation and G × E in most signal traits measured, with little or no change in mean signal phenotypes. We suggest that the expression of extant genetic variation across old and novel environments can initiate signal divergence.
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Vol. 62 • No. 1