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Host plant preference and performance of the vine weevil Otiorhynchus sulcatus

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1 The relationship between reproductive performance and preference for potential host plants of the vine weevil is investigated, as shown in tests on contact (or feeding) preference, presented herein, and tests on olfactory preference, published elsewhere.

2 Assessment of reproductive performance shows that the host-plant range of the adult vine weevil Otiorhynchus sulcatus in Europe is limited to one gymnosperm genus (Taxus sp.) and a broad range of angiosperm plants in two subclasses of the Dicotyledonae, namely Dilleniidae and Rosidae. The successful reproduction on very distantly related plant taxa suggests that the original weevil- and plant-habitat has mediated the current host-plant range of the vine weevil.

3 Contact-preference tests with equally suitable hosts, such as Aronia, Fragaria, Euonymus and Taxus, and one less suitable host, Humulus, indicate a mismatch between contact preference and performance and, as far as olfactory preferences are known, these match neither the contact preferences nor the performance. This mismatch may arise because (i) host plant species offered do not occur in weevil habitat in Europe (e.g. Aronia and the cultivated Fragaria come from North America) and (ii) predation (or disease) risks differ among host plants, thereby altering effective reproductive performance.

4 With respect to performance on novel hosts (Thuja, Prunus) and bad hosts (Rhododendron), some between-individual variation is found within a single population, suggesting that local populations harbour (possibly genetic) variation for adaptation to new hosts. How this variation is maintained in the face of strong selection pressures on local populations of flightless and thelytokous weevils, is an important question for understanding the broad host plant range in the vine weevil.

Keywords: Fecundity; Otiorhynchus sulcatus; feeding preference; genetic variation; host plants; longevity; oviposition; parthenogenesis; performance; phylogeny

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Plant Research International, PO Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands, 2: Hogere Agrarische School den Bosch, PO Box 90108, 5200 MA Den Bosch, the Netherlands and 3: Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Section Population Biology, PO Box 94084, 1090 GB Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Publication date: November 1, 2004


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