1. Leaf mining insects feed within plant tissue and thus have close physical associations with their host plants. Little is known about the evolution of relationships between leaf miners and their host species. 2. The prevalence of leaf mining was examined in relation to the phylogeny of a dominant family of Australian plants, the Myrtaceae. Sixty-eight species from the 10 major phylogenetic groups within the family were sampled in south-eastern Australia. 3. Fifty-seven per cent of the plant species examined were found to be mined. Several leaf traits were compared between mined and unmined plant species to investigate the potential role of both physical and nutritional characteristics in determining host-plant susceptibility to these herbivores. 4. The physical leaf traits measured were leaf area, specific leaf area (SLA), lamina thickness, toughness, and amount of fibre (percentage hemicellulose). The nutritional traits were water content, and concentrations of carbon, nitrogen, total phenols and condensed tannins. Principal component analysis showed mined plant species differed from unmined in terms of several leaf traits. 5. In a post hoc regression weighted for phylogeny, leaf miner presence was significantly positively correlated with plant species having thinner laminas and higher phenol concentrations, and was positively correlated with marginal significance to SLA and water content.
- leaf miners
- leaf traits
- phylogenetically weighted regression