Patterns of insect herbivory on four Australian understory plant species

Sabine S. Nooten*, Lesley Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Australia harbours a very diverse phytophagous insect fauna, but little is known about the patterns of insect herbivory in dominant forest systems, especially in dry sclerophyll forests. Here, we assess variation in leaf herbivory in four species of narrow-ranged sclerophyllous shrubs across their geographical distribution. We assessed leaf herbivory as the percentage of missing leaf area, and estimated the proportion of damage types, such as chewing, sucking and mining. We found that the levels of leaf herbivory and the proportions of damage types were consistent among plant species but showed considerable variability within single plant species among sites and individual plants. This variability is most likely due to the patchy distribution of herbivorous insects in space and time. Leaf damage was dominated by chewing, but mining and sucking occurred on all plant four species. Sap sucking, although much less conspicuous, was found to be a major damage type, demonstrating that neglect of sap sucking damage in leaf herbivory assessments could lead to a considerable underestimation of the total herbivore damage inflicted on host plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-314
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Entomology
Volume52
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

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