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Predicting patch occupancy reveals the complexity of host range expansion

Citation

Forister, Matthew (2020), Predicting patch occupancy reveals the complexity of host range expansion, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cz8w9gj23

Abstract

Specialized plant-insect interactions are a defining feature of life on earth, yet we are only beginning to understand the factors that set limits on host ranges in herbivorous insects. To better understand the recent adoption of alfalfa as a host plant by the Melissa blue butterfly, we quantified arthropod assemblages and plant metabolites across a wide geographic region, while controlling for climate and dispersal inferred from population genomic variation. The presence of the butterfly is successfully predicted by direct and indirect effects of plant traits and interactions with other species. Results are consistent with the predictions of a theoretical model of parasite host range in which specialization is an epiphenomenon of the many barriers to be overcome rather than a consequence of trade-offs in developmental physiology.