Foliage chemistry and the distribution of Lepidoptera larvae on broad-leaved trees in southern Ontario

Abstract

This study addresses the influence of foliage chemistry on the distribution of Lepidoptera larvae across species of trees. I used ordination and analysis of principal coordinates to describe the partitioning of the larvae of 24 species of Lepidoptera over 23 species of host trees taking into account 13 chemical properties of the foliage. Canonical analysis of principal coordinates (CAP) revealed two significant axes linking the two datasets. The first constrained axis (r 2 = 0.83) was associated with increasing amounts of soluble carbohydrates and decreasing amounts of hemicellulose, polyphenols, and potassium per cm2 leaf area. The second constrained axis (r 2 = 0.68) was associated with increasing amounts of soluble carbohydrates and decreasing magnesium. Variation in nitrogen and phosphorus, which are major factors in larval nutrition, were not associated with turnover of Lepidoptera species between species of host tree. Of the total variance in the positions of tree species on the first four constrained CAP axes, 44% was correlated with positions determined by foliage chemistry, 32% on the first two constrained axes. Within the space described by the first two canonical axes, congeneric species of tree clustered together, with the exception that Acer negundo was removed from other species of Acer, which grouped in a tight cluster with species in the order Fagales, as well as with Tilia and Ulmus. Alnus and Prunus also grouped together. No species of tree with a negative score on constrained axis 2 exhibited high Lepidoptera species richness, but the average number of individuals per collection tended to be high. These tree species also contain triterpenes in their leaves and harbored disproportionately more tent- and web-making species of Lepidoptera. These analyses show that patterns of distribution across host tree species within an assemblage of Lepidoptera species can be understood, at least in part, in terms of the qualities of the resources upon which they feed.

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-008-1050-x

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Cite this paper

@article{Ricklefs2008FoliageCA, title={Foliage chemistry and the distribution of Lepidoptera larvae on broad-leaved trees in southern Ontario}, author={Robert E . Ricklefs}, journal={Oecologia}, year={2008}, volume={157}, pages={53-67} }