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Data from: Reproductive behaviour indicates specificity in resource use: phylogenetic examples from temperate and tropical insects

Citation

Holm, Sille et al. (2018), Data from: Reproductive behaviour indicates specificity in resource use: phylogenetic examples from temperate and tropical insects, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cj8qn

Abstract

Specificity (= the degree of ecological specialisation) is one of the fundamental concepts of the science of ecology. Ambiguities on how to define and measure specificity have however complicated respective research efforts. Here we propose that, in insects, a behavioural trait –adult oviposition latency in captivity without a favourable host plant – correlates with a species’ specificity in larval host use. In the absence of a suitable host, monophagous insects are expected to wait for a long time before commencing oviposition, with the long waiting time corresponding to careful host location behaviour in nature. Polyphagous insects, in contrast, should be selected for an increased oviposition rate at the expense of the quality of oviposition substrate encountered and will on average have a short latency time. Using experimentally derived data on oviposition latency, we performed a phylogenetically informed analysis based on Bayesian inference to show that this variable correlates with host specificity (larval diet breadth) in a sample of North-European species of geometrid moths. A closely related index – the probability to lay any eggs on an unfavourable substrate – shows an analogous pattern. To provide an example of how these indices can be applied, we compare our sample of geometrid moths from Northern Europe with a sample from equatorial Africa. A comparative analysis based on an original phylogenetic reconstruction found no differences between the two study sites in parameters of oviposition behaviour. We conclude that behavioural tests can provide information about ecological interactions when the latter cannot be directly recorded. Our example study also hints at the possibility that host specificity of herbivores is not necessarily higher in a tropical region compared to a temperate one.

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Uganda
Estonia