Evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of insect host plant preference
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
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.
host plant choice, host range, diet breadth, butterfly, oviposition, specialist, generalist, insect-plant interaction, search behavior, olfaction, decision making, evolution, parasite-host interaction
Evolutionary Biology Ecology Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject Animal Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128488ISBN: 978-91-7649-381-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-128488DiVA: diva2:915461
2016-05-20, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Heard, Steven, Professor
Janz, Niklas, Docent
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.2016-04-272016-03-302016-04-11Bibliographically approved
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