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Intra-plant host selection, oviposition preference and larval survival of Chrysophtharta agricola (Chapuis) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Paropsini) between foliage types of a heterophyllous host

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1 Paropsine chrysomelid beetles defoliate commercial eucalypt plantations in Australia. Adults and larvae feed on the same host, with the larval food source determined by the oviposition choice of females. Most eucalypt species are heterophyllous, with their foliage undergoing distinct morphological and chemical changes between adult and juvenile growth.

2 The intra‐plant foliage feeding and oviposition preference adults and the larval development of Chrysophtharta agricola were examined using adult and juvenile foliage of a heterophyllous plantation species, Eucalyptus nitens. The foliage types differ in chemistry, toughness, waxiness and timing of production.

3 In the field, feeding damage caused by adult beetles was 15% more frequent on adult foliage than on juvenile foliage; however, egg batches were three times more common on juvenile than on adult foliage.

4 Oviposition preference for juvenile foliage over adult foliage was confirmed in choice trials in the laboratory, with adult fecundity and longevity not significantly different between foliage types.

5 Larval survival, development time and subsequent pupal weight were also unaffected by foliage type, suggesting that neither foliage type is nutritionally superior for adults or for larvae. However, adult foliage was significantly thicker than juvenile foliage and this may prove a physical constraint to larval establishment. Biotic and abiotic factors (including interactions with natural enemies, competition, microclimate and mate location) that may affect patterns of host plant utilization are discussed.

Keywords: Chrysomelid; eucalypt; heteroblasty; larval performance; oviposition preference

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: CRC for Sustainable Production Forestry, GPO Box 252-12, Hobart, Tasmania 7004, Australia, 2: and School of Agricultural Science, The University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-54, Hobart, Tasmania 7004, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2003


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