Abundance-body mass relationships among insects along a latitudinal gradient

Nigel R. Andrew, Lesley Hughes

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    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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