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Clutch size and host use in butterflies - and how to measure diet breadth
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3187-3555
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4195-8920
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Ethology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5072-1688
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The utilization of host plants is a central aspect of herbivorous insect life-history and known to promote processes of diversification in this group. In species that aggregate their eggs, female selection of a suitable egg-laying site is especially important, since a large proportion of the realized fitness will depend on few oviposition events. A cluster of larvae also requires a large resource to complete development and thus resource size may further limit the range of suitable hosts. We investigated whether there is a relationship between clutch size and diet breadth for 206 nymphalid butterfly species, using phylogenetic comparative methods. Results were consistent across several taxonomic and phylogenetic diet breadth measures, suggesting that some taxonomic measures may be as good approximations as the more cumbersome estimates based on phylogenetic distance. Treating diet breadth and clutch size as continuous data indicated no relationship between the traits, while categorizing them into binary form showed that they evolve in a correlated fashion. The discordance between analyses indicated that clutch size may be constrained among extreme generalists, as polyphagous clutch layers were rare. We found clutch-laying to be a relatively conserved trait in the phylogeny and less flexible than variation in degree of host plant specialization. Host plant growth form did not influence the clutch size diet breath relationship, but was weakly correlated with both factors. We discuss the general role of conservative life-history traits, such as clutch size, for the evolutionary dynamics of more labile traits such as diet breadth among phytophagous insects.

Keyword [en]
egg aggregation, Nymphalidae, host range, phylogenetic diversity, PD, comparative methods, herbivorous insects, host-parasite interaction
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128486OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-128486DiVA: diva2:915434
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2011-5636Swedish Research Council, 2015-04218Swedish Research Council, 2013-4834
Available from: 2016-03-30 Created: 2016-03-30 Last updated: 2016-04-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of insect host plant preference
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of insect host plant preference
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Plant feeding insects comprise about 25% of all animal species on earth and play an important role in all ecosystems. Although we understand that their association with plants is a key-factor driving the diversification in this group, we still have large gaps in our knowledge of the underlying processes of this relationship. Female choice of host plant is an important event in the insect life-cycle, as it is a major determinant of the larval food plant. In this Thesis I studied different aspects of insect host plant choice and used butterflies from the family Nymphalidae as my study system. I found that butterflies have a well developed olfactory system and that they use odors when searching for food or host plants. However, the information obtained from the odor of host plants does not seem to be sufficient for the studied species to make a distinction between plants of different qualities. Interestingly, even when in full contact with the leaf they do not make optimal decisions. I show for example that a sub-optimal female choice may be mitigated by larval ability to cope with unfavorable situations. Moreover, species that utilize a broader set of host plants may not be very well adapted to all the hosts they use, but at the same time they may survive in areas where there is only a subset of the plants available. Lastly, differences in the evolution of life-history traits between species can account for differences in how each species realizes its lifestyle. Thus, by incorporating findings on mechanisms of host plant choice with the ecological and evolutionary context of a species, our ability to explain the dynamics of host plant choice and insect-plant interactions can be improved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2016. 25 p.
Keyword
host plant choice, host range, diet breadth, butterfly, oviposition, specialist, generalist, insect-plant interaction, search behavior, olfaction, decision making, evolution, parasite-host interaction
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Ecology Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128488 (URN)978-91-7649-381-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-05-20, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
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Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-04-27 Created: 2016-03-30 Last updated: 2016-04-11Bibliographically approved

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