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Body size and feeding specificity: macrolepidoptera in Britain
Article first published online: 14 JAN 2008
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume 63, Issue 1, pages 121–139, January 1998
How to Cite
Loder, N., Gaston, K. J., Warren, P. H. and Arnold, H. R. (1998), Body size and feeding specificity: macrolepidoptera in Britain. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 63: 121–139. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.1998.tb01642.x
- Issue published online: 14 JAN 2008
- Article first published online: 14 JAN 2008
- Received 19 May 1997; accepted for publication 22 October 1997
- environmental variability;
- geographic range size;
- host quality;
- host specificity;
Within a geographic assemblage, large-bodied species of macrolepidopteran moths tend, on average, to be less host-specific than small-bodied. Five possible explanations for this pattern are identified, based respectively on (i) phylogenetic relationships between species, (ii) latitudinal gradients in body size and feeding specificity, (iii) the relationship between range size and body size, (iv) larger body size as a buffer from environmental variation, and (v) the relationship between endophagous host associations and small body size. These mechanisms are tested using data for British macrolepidoptera and also evaluated using evidence from the literature at large. Although some of their assumptions are found to be justified, there is no significant support for any single mechanism. This lack of evidence for previously proposed mechanisms is discussed in the light of a recently proposed alternative explanation which combines theories of host quality and host defence mechanisms.