Why Are There So Many Species of Herbivorous Insects in Tropical Rainforests?

  title={Why Are There So Many Species of Herbivorous Insects in Tropical Rainforests?},
  author={Vojtěch Novotn{\'y} and Pavel Drozd and Scott E. Miller and Miroslav Kulfan and Milan Janda and Yves Basset and George D. Weiblen},
  pages={1115 - 1118}
Despite recent progress in understanding mechanisms of tree species coexistence in tropical forests, a simple explanation for the even more extensive diversity of insects feeding on these plants has been missing. We compared folivorous insects from temperate and tropical trees to test the hypothesis that herbivore species coexistence in more diverse communities could reflect narrow host specificity relative to less diverse communities. Temperate and tropical tree species of comparable… 

Host specificity of Lepidoptera in tropical and temperate forests

It is suggested that greater specialization in tropical faunas is the result of differences in trophic interactions; for example, there are more distinct plant secondary chemical profiles from one tree species to the next in tropical forests than in temperate forests as well as more diverse and chronic pressures from natural enemy communities.

Low beta diversity of herbivorous insects in tropical forests

Low beta diversity was documented in groups with differing host specificity (fruitflies and ambrosia beetles), suggesting that dispersal limitation does not have a substantial role in shaping the distribution of insect species in New Guinea lowland rainforests.

Differences in tropical vs. temperate diversity in arthropod predators provide insights into causes of latitudinal gradients of species diversity

This work contradicts the widely accepted hypothesis that tropical diversity is associated with more specialization of predators, and presents the first standardized tropical-temperate forest comparison of species richness and evenness for understory spiders, a dominant and mega-diverse taxa of generalist predators.

Why species richness of plants and herbivorous insects do or do not correlate

It is found that generality of insect communities negatively affected the correlation between species richness of plants and insects, but such negative effect was significant only when the insect species richness was related with the number of plant species interacted with some insect species, instead of with that of total plant species.

Comment on "Why Are There So Many Species of Herbivorous Insects in Tropical Rainforests?"

If host specificity is related to host abundance, differences in relative host abundance between tropical and temperate regions may limit any general conclusion that herbivore diversity scales directly with host-plant diversity.

Specialization of rainforest canopy beetles to host trees and microhabitats: not all specialists are leaf-feeding herbivores

Effective specialization measures showed that traditional correction factors used to project total species richness in nonherbivorous groups fail to fully capture diversity in the flower-visiting beetle fauna, demonstrating that host specialization is not concentrated within folivores as previously assumed.

Butterfly and moth communities differ in their response to habitat structure in rainforests of Mount Cameroon

Mechanisms structuring tropical communities are still under‐studied, especially in Afrotropical rainforests. Although insect herbivores are considered to depend on plant diversity, we hypothesized

Comparative patterns in taxonomic and functional spider diversities between tropical vs. temperate forests

Differences in diversity far surpass previous estimates and exceed tropical–temperate ratios for herbivorous taxa.

Guild-specific patterns of species richness and host specialization in plant-herbivore food webs from a tropical forest.

A complex, species-rich plant-herbivore food web for lowland rain forest in Papua New Guinea is described, resolving 6818 feeding links between 224 plant species and 1490 herbivore species drawn from 11 distinct feeding guilds.

Four ways towards tropical herbivore megadiversity.

This work presents a comprehensive scheme in which tropical herbivore megadiversity can be partitioned into the following components: more host plant species per se, more arthropod species per plant species, higher host specificity of herbivores, or higher species turnover in the tropics than in the temperate zone.



Low host specificity of herbivorous insects in a tropical forest

It is shown that most herbivorous species feed on several closely related plant species, suggesting that species-rich genera are dominant in tropical floras, and monophagous herbivores are probably rare in tropical forests.

Host specificity of insect herbivores in tropical forests

  • V. NovotnýY. Basset
  • Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2005
This conclusion, together with the recent downward revisions of extremely high estimates of tropical species richness, suggest that tropical ecosystems may not be as biodiverse as previously thought.

Host-specificity of folivorous insects in a moist tropical forest

To assess the degree of herbivore host-specificity in the moist tropical forest on Barro Colourado Island, Panama, an extensive series of feeding trials on the common insect herbivores from 10 tree species found specialists are responsible for most of the insect herbvory.

Host specificity of temperate and tropical animals

  • R. Beaver
  • Environmental Science, Biology
  • 1979
One group of insects, the bark and ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Scolytidae and Platypodidae), are less host-specific in the tropics than in temperate regions, even though there are considerably more species present in the Tropics.

Insects on Plants: Diversity of Herbivore Assemblages Revisited

Methods of community phylogenetic analysis, complex networks, spatial and among-host diversity partitioning, and metacommunity models represent promising approaches for future work into stratification and host specialization of herbivores.

Local Species Richness of Leaf‐Chewing Insects Feeding on Woody Plants from One Hectare of a Lowland Rainforest

Most of the herbivore diversity was associated with plant diversity on the familial and generic levels, and Lepidoptera was the most speciose taxon in the local fauna, followed by Coleoptera and orthopteroids (OrthopterA and Phasmatodea).

Associations of Plants and Insects in Deciduous Forest

A weighting factor for cluster analysis is introduced that weights a character (in this case the density of an insect species on a plant) in proportion to its deviation from the norm.

The Abundance of Insect Herbivore Species in the Tropics: The High Local Richness of Rare Species

The high richness of relatively rare species in the cerrado site poses challenges in understanding the reasons for such rarity, the organization of such assemblages, the gradient of species richness from low to high latitudes, the estimation of biodiversity, and conservation management.

The Ecology of Trees in the Tropical Rain Forest: Reproductive biology

With detailed information available for perhaps only a few hundred of the many thousand of species that occur, our current knowledge of the ecology of tropical rainforest trees is limited. This book

Ecological Characterization of a Costa Rican Dry Forest Caterpillar Fauna

The dry forests of Costa Rica's Santa Rosa National Park range from deciduous and 2 m tall to nearly evergreen and 30 m tall, and this vegetation and a complex mosaic of secondary succession in old fields and pastures supports at least 3 140 species of caterpillars.