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The suitability of leaves from different canopy layers for a generalist herbivore (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) foraging on sugar maple

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Abstract:

Variations of leaf suitability within forest canopies may have important consequences for the biology of phytophagous insects. In this study we examined over 4 consecutive years (1994–1997), the influence of vertical stratification of leaves within a sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) stand on biological performance and feeding preference of Malacosoma disstria Hbn. Each year, 10 healthy sugar maple trees and about 15 understory sugar maple seedlings were selected. Leaves were collected from the lower (3–6 m above ground) and the upper crown (20–25 m above ground) sections of the trees and from seedlings. Sampled leaves were set in Petri dishes for insect rearings in controlled environment. The performance of the insect, especially pupal masses and the number of eggs of adult females, was higher when larvae were fed with leaves from the upper crown section of trees. Results for the feeding preference tests showed that larvae of fourth instars consumed more surface area from leaves collected in the upper crown section of the trees. More total nitrogen found in leaves from the upper tree crown could explain the higher performance of this insect. Our results confirm the importance of the heterogeneity in leaf suitability along a vertical stratification in forests by its influence on biological performance and feeding preference of M. disstria.

Les variations dans la qualité nutritive des feuilles dans la voûte forestière peuvent avoir des répercussions sur la biologie des insectes phytophages. La présente étude a examiné au cours de 4 années consécutives (1994–1997) l'influence de la stratification verticale du feuillage dans une érablière sur la performance biologique et le comportement alimentaire de Malacosoma disstria Hbn. À chaque année, 10 érable à sucre (Acer saccharum Marsh.) sains et environ 15 semis d'érable à sucre ont été échantillonné. Les feuilles ont été récoltées à la base (3–6 m au-dessus du sol) et au sommet (20–25 m au-dessus du sol) de la couronne des arbres sélectionnés, et sur des semis. Ces feuilles ont été placées dans des boîtes de Pétri pour l'élevage des insectes en milieu contrôlé. La performance de l'insecte, en particulier la masse des chrysalides et le nombre d'oeufs produits par les femelles adultes, était meilleure lorsque les larves s'alimentaient avec les feuilles provenant du sommet de la couronne des arbres matures. Les résultats concernant les tests de comportement alimentaire ont révélé que les larves du quatrième stade ont consommé davantage les feuilles récoltées au sommet de la couronne des arbres. Des concentrations plus élevées d'azote total dans les feuilles du sommet de la couronne des arbres pourraient expliquer la performance supérieure de l'insecte sur ces feuilles. Nos résultats confirment l'importance de l'hétérogénéité de la qualité nutritive du feuillage dans la stratification verticale des forêts par son influence sur la performance biologique et le comportement alimentaire de M. disstria.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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