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Complementarity effects through dietary mixing enhance the performance of a generalist insect herbivore

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Unsicker,  S. B.
Department of Biochemistry, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Ecological Interactions, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Zitation

Unsicker, S. B., Oswald, A., Köhler, G., & Weisser, W. W. (2008). Complementarity effects through dietary mixing enhance the performance of a generalist insect herbivore. Oecologia, 156(2), 313-324. doi:10.1007/s00442-008-0973-6.


Zitierlink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-A7F6-7
Zusammenfassung
The ontogenetic niche concept predicts that resource use depends on an organism's developmental stage. This concept has been investigated primarily in animals that show differing resource use strategies as juveniles and as adults, such as amphibians. We studied resource use and performance in the grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus (Orthoptera, Acrididae) provided with food plant mixtures of either one, three or eight plant species throughout their development. C. parallelus survival and fecundity was highest in the food plant mixture with eight plant species and lowest in the treatments where only one single plant species was offered as food. C. parallelus' consumption throughout its ontogeny depended on sex, and feeding on different plant species was dependent on a grasshopper's developmental stage. To depict grasshopper foraging in food plant mixtures compared to foraging on single plant species, we introduce the term "relative forage total" (RFT) based on an approach used in biodiversity research by Loreau and Hector (Nature 413:548-274, 2001). RFT of grasshoppers in food plant mixtures was always higher than what would have been expected from foraging in monocultures. The increase in food consumption was due to an overall increase in feeding on plant species in mixtures compared to consumption of the same species offered as a single diet. Thus we argue that grasshopper foraging exhibits complementarity effects. Our results reinforce the necessity to consider development-related changes in insect herbivore feeding. Thorough information on the feeding ontogeny of insect herbivores could not only elucidate their nutritional ecology but also help to shed light on their functional role in plant communities.