Publication Date: 2015.
Plant water stress can affect selectivity by insect herbivores. Numerous studies have shown greater insect preference for water-stressed plants, but others have reported the opposite response. We evaluated leaf consumption by adults of Nyctelia circumundata (a chewing insect) in leaves of Larrea divaricata and Prosopis alpataco. Three bioassays (two-way choice tests) were performed: two intra-specific comparisons between well-watered (+W) and water-stressed (−W) leaves of each species and one inter-specific comparison between leaves of the two species. Leaf biomass was reduced by water stress in both species. Nitrogen concentration in leaves (N) was reduced by drought in P. alpataco. In contrast, total phenolics and specific leaf area (SLA) did not differ between treatments within species. Nyctelia circumundata did not show preference by any water supply regimes in intra-specific comparisons. In contrast, in inter-specific choice tests, it showed a marked preference for P. alpataco, which is the species with the highest nitrogen concentration and lowest total phenolics concentration. In intra-specific comparisons, maximum leaf consumption was inversely related to SLA in both species. Furthermore, in P. alpataco, N concentration was positively related to maximum leaf consumption and negatively related to leaf water content (LWC). In contrast, in inter-specific comparisons, total phenolics was negatively related to maximum leaf consumption, while N concentration exhibited the opposite trend. These results suggest that food selection is a hierarchical process where chemical attributes (i.e., total phenolics and N) are taken into account for species selection, and physical attributes (i.e., SLA and LWC) for choosing individuals inside species.
Author affiliation: Bisigato, Alejandro Jorge. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Nacional Patagónico; Argentina. Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia; Argentina
Author affiliation: Sain, Claudia Leticia. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Nacional Patagónico; Argentina
Author affiliation: Campanella, María Victoria. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Nacional Patagónico; Argentina
Author affiliation: Cheli, German Horacio. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Nacional Patagónico; Argentina
Repository: CONICET Digital (CONICET). Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas