Document Type

Peer-Review Article


The exoskeletal morphology of the structures associated with the production of substrate vibrations used for communication was examined for members of three guilds of sap-feeding insects on the cordgrasses Spartina alterniflora Loisel, S. patens (Aiton) Muhl., and S. pectinata Link (Poaceae: Chloridoidea). Measurements of the second abdominal sternite and its apodemes, the “tymbal,” were made for the males of 14 species of planthoppers and 2 species of leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Caliscelidae, Cicadellidae, Delphacidae, Derbidae). Morphometric comparisons revealed significant differences among the insect species on each of the cordgrass species. If tymbal morphology reflects definitive features of the vibrational signals then coexistence by the members of each sap-feeding guild is likely fostered by partitioning the “substrate resource.” Tymbal morphology may be a valuable tool for determining the presence of sibling species and for providing insights regarding behavior, ecology, and evolution of these insects.

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