Herbivorous arthropods on bracken (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Khun) in Australia compared with elsewhere

E. Shuter, M. Westoby

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract The herbivorous arthropod fauna of bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Khun), at a site near Sydney, Australia, is described and compared with previously reported bracken faunas in other geographic regions. Monthly sampling over 18 months found 17 species of herbivorous arthropods (15 insect and two mite species) from five orders. At the ordinal level, the mixture differed substantially from the bracken faunas of sites in Britain and Papua New Guinea. Notable was the presence of Thysanoptera and Acari, and the absence of Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. The mixtures of orders/families represented in the site bracken faunas in Britain, and less so in Australia, resembled those in the pool of herbivorous arthropods in those regions. Further, the mixture of orders on bracken was more similar to the mixture of orders on other ferns than to the mixture of orders among herbivorous insects on all plants; such similarity was not evident at family level. Compared with sites in other regions, the Sydney site had an abundance of pinna‐sucking species and a dearth of mining species. Differences between regions in feeding niches most occupied tended to correspond with the differences in orders represented. Not all features of the fauna of bracken near Sydney reflected differences in the general herbivorous arthropod fauna of Australia compared with other regions, or differences between the herbivore faunas of ferns and seed plants. Its composition must be attributed in part to stochastic aspects of the speciation of herbivorous arthropods onto host plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Journal of Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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