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The long-term fitness of individuals is examined in complex and temporally dynamic ecosystems. We call this multigeneration fitness measure “future fitness”. Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a polyphagous insect that feeds on many wild and cultivated hosts. While four generations of H. zea occur during the cropping season in the U.S. Mid Southern agroecosysem, the latter two generations were of most interest, as corn (which has been largely nontransgenic in the Mid-South) dominates the first two generations in the cropping system. In simulations of the evolution of resistance to Bt-transgenic crops, cotton refuge areas were found to be significantly more effective than similar soybean acreages at delaying the evolution of resistance. Cotton is a suitable host for H. zea during two late summer generations, while a soybean field is suitable for only one of these generations, therefore soybean fields of other maturity groups were simulated as being attractive during the alternative generation. A hypothetical soybean variety was tested in which a single field would be attractive over both generations and it was found to be significantly more effective at delaying resistance than simulated conventional soybean varieties. Finally, the placement of individuals emerging at the start of the 3rd (first without corn) generation was simulated in either refuge cotton, conventional soybean and the hypothetical long attractive soybean and the mean number of offspring produced was measured at the end of the season. Although females in conventional and long soybean crops had the same expected fecundity, because of differences in temporal stability of the two crops, the long soybean simulations had significantly more H. zea individuals at the end of the season than the conventional soybean simulations. These simulations demonstrate that the long-term fecundity associated with an individual is dependent not only on the fecundity of that individual in its current habitat, but also the temporal stability of habitats, the ecosystem at large and the likelihood that the individual's offspring will move into different habitats.
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