Abundance-body mass relationships among insects along a latitudinal gradient

Nigel R. Andrew, Lesley Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the relationship between abundance and body size (body mass) of 162 insect herbivore species on the host plant Acacia falcata along its entire coastal latitudinal distribution (eastern Australia), spanning a gradient in mean annual temperature of 4.3°C. We extend previous research by assessing these relationships at different spatial scales (latitudes pooled, among latitudes and within latitudes) and at different taxonomic levels (insect phytophages pooled, phytophagous Coleoptera and Hemiptera, and five component suborders/superfamilies). Insect species were collected from two orders (Hemiptera and Coleoptera) and five component suborders/superfamilies. There were no consistent trends in the relationships (linear or polygonal/hump-shaped) between abundance and body mass when latitudes were pooled, among latitudes, or when phytophagous insect species were separated into their component suborder/superfamily groups. The reason for the lack of consistent trends might be due to the insect herbivores not fully exploiting their host plant and the relative absence of competition among herbivore species for food resources. This is further assessed in relation to the lack of a consistent pattern in species richness of Coleoptera and Hemiptera herbivores from the same dataset and rates of chewing and sap-sucking herbivory along the same latitudinal gradient. Future studies of abundance-body size relationships are discussed in relation to sampling across environmental gradients and accounting for the influence of host plant identity and insect phylogeny.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-260
Number of pages8
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

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