Present address: Wildlife Conservation Branch, Environmental Protection Agency, PO Box 15155, City East QLD 4002, Australia.
Leaf biomechanical properties and the densities of herbivorous insect guilds
Article first published online: 8 DEC 2006
Volume 21, Issue 2, pages 246–255, April 2007
How to Cite
PEETERS, P. J., SANSON, G. and READ, J. (2007), Leaf biomechanical properties and the densities of herbivorous insect guilds. Functional Ecology, 21: 246–255. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2006.01223.x
- Issue published online: 8 DEC 2006
- Article first published online: 8 DEC 2006
- Received 10 April 2006; accepted 3 October 2006Editor: J. Daniel Hare
- arboreal insect assemblages;
- leaf biomechanics;
- leaf strength;
- leaf toughness;
- plant–insect interactions
- 1This study investigated relationships between leaf biomechanical properties and the densities of their associated insect herbivores.
- 2The herbivorous insects associated with 18 co-occurring plant species were sampled over 16 months. Biomechanical properties of new and mature leaves of each plant species were measured using punching, shearing and tearing tests.
- 3Significant variation in leaf biomechanical properties was found among plant species, and between new and mature leaves.
- 4Total insect density was significantly negatively correlated with work to tear (r = −0·43, P < 0·05) and work to shear (r = −0·70, P < 0·01).
- 5Although chewing insect density was significantly correlated with punch strength of mature leaves, sucking insect density was not. While studies of herbivory often include measures of leaf punch strength, this mechanical trait may indicate resistance to chewing insects but not sucking insects.
- 6We conclude that leaf biomechanical properties are influencing the functional composition of herbivorous insect assemblages in this system.